A few years ago, a simple phrase in a TV commercial went viral. The commercial portrayed an elderly lady going into a fast food restaurant, ordering a hamburger, and when she gets it, she pulls back the top bun and demands, “Where’s the beef?” Soon afterwards the question, “Where’s the beef?” became a popular response when anything seemed to be lacking or fell short of expectations.
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves and others a similar question, “Where’s the joy?” My own experience and that of many others is we loose our joy far too often. Caught up in the routines, the busyness, the obligations and deadlines of daily life, we allow our joy to slip away.
When I talk about joy, I am not thinking about emotions or feelings, rather that inner contentment reflected in an external calm. I am talking about a heart-felt assurance of God’s presence and peace. Happiness, in my opinion, depends on circumstance, while joy relies on faith and confidence in God’s Word.
Where is your joy? What has robbed you of this priceless treasure? In my experience I have discovered three things that, if I am not careful, will steal my joy.
The first thief who, like a professional pickpocket, slips up on me and runs away with my joy is distraction! He skillfully uses circumstances and other people to attract my attention and then leads me to fixate on secondary, unimportant things. When this happens he takes away they joy of keeping my eyes and my focus on the One who is my strength and my hope. Hebrews 12:2 challenges us to “run with patience the race set before us” and to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
The second thief is doubt. Like Thomas, sometimes I refuse to believe unless I can touch it our see it for myself. That is why Jesus so often rebuked his disciples for their unbelief. On one occasion, when they could not cast out a demon from a young boy, his father brought his son to Jesus. After the Jesus cast out the demon, the disciples asked him why they were unable to cast out the demon. Jesus said, “It is because of your lack of faith. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed, and it shall be done. All things are possible to the one who believes.” Matthew 17:19-21 Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Our lack of faith can result in a loss of joy because we do not see God at work, nor do we learn to trust Him all things.
The third thief, the most deceitful and dangerous, is disobedience. Not only does he steal our joy, he decimates it! He rips it from us like a bully. Disobedience knocks us down, stomps on our testimony and walks away laughing. No one said it better than King David, a man about whom the Scripture says, was a man after God’s own heart. His disobedience led to adultery and murder. His repentance and return to God included this prayer, “ David cried out to God, “Against you and you alone have I sinned. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow, purge me, cleans me. Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore unto me the JOY of your salvation.” Psa. 51
Where is the joy in your life? What happened to rob you of what you once had in fellowship with the Father? In other words, who stole your joy? Was it disobedience? Was it doubt? Was it distraction?
Most importantly, what are you going to do about it?
If distraction has robbed your joy, will you turn to Jesus, and do what the old song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
In the case of doubt, will you cast your care on Him totally, trust Him without reservation, lean on Him totally? Will you fully exercise that small faith that you have – even if it is the size of a mustard seed? Stop doubting and start depending!
If it is disobedience, will you come clean with God about your disobedience? Will you own up to what you have done or failed to do? Admit your sin, confess and agree with the Lord about it, and then turn from it in repentance? Claim 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.