“RESTORE MY JOY”
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:12)
A number of years back a young lady, who was a church member, called and asked if she could come and talk with me. I told her to come on to the church and we would talk. We talked at length and in detail for about an hour. This young lady had been a very active member of the church. She was a Sunday school teacher, and she went out visiting with the ladies almost every week. She was a tither, and faithful in attendance to all church services; however, it was apparent something was missing in her spiritual life. I had noticed this for several months and it was not improving. During the close of our conversation, I told her that I had noticed a dangerous decline in her spirituality, dealing primarily with the “joy of her salvation”. She remarked, “No Pastor, I have lost the joy of my marriage, not my salvation.” There were “tell-tale” signs that indicated this young lady had lost her joy, not just of her marriage, but also of her salvation. I soon found out that sin had come into her life and robbed her of her joy. The once vibrant, smiling, faithful young lady had been reduced to a sad, critical woman whose church attendance had become infrequent; she was a defeated Christian. Church and faithfulness did not hold the same value as in previous months and years. She looked for someone to blame and therefore the pastor and the church became her logical targets. She left the church that day vowing never to return.
Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy is an excitement based on an expectation of good. It is an attribute of God, “...for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). It is also listed as one of the fruit of the spirit (cf Galatians 5:22) i.e. “love, joy, peace, etc.” Where there is spiritual contentment and expectation in a Christian’s life there will be joy. The conduct of a Christian or a congregation can bring joy to the life of a pastor or other Christians as they have the expectation of something spiritually good coming forth from the life of a believer. “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:2).
True believers know that this life is not the summary of our joy. We have something much better to look for with excitement and eternal expectation. “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). Jesus had joy amidst the pain and sorrow as He headed to the Cross to bear our sin and reproach. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Pastors and Christians are to help fortify and increase the joy of those who have lost their joy, but not with criticism. “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (II Corinthians 1:24).
David recognized the only remedy for his joy to be restored was to get back into fellowship with God (see Psalm 51:12-17). This remedy is still effective today. The young lady I mentioned at the beginning came back to church several months later. She recognized her sin, the depleting of her joy, and repented. She, once again, became the vibrant young lady with a big smile and an overwhelming desire to stay close to the Lord and serve Him. It was so good to see that God had restored her joy.
Pastor H. Preston Parker