Trip, as you know, fighting for joy in Christ is a daily battle in the Christian life. So how do you pursue joy in Christ? Is this something you set out to achieve in a given day? Last time, in episode 593, you shared with us about your daily trials. So now talk to us about pursuing joy in God, daily, in the midst of those struggles.
It is definitely a pursuit. Because if I don’t set out to find or achieve joy in God out of any given day, I just won’t have it. One of the unlikely gifts of even suffering at times, suffering that I have been through in the past few years with chronic fatigue — which is small suffering compared to a lot of other people’s — but one of the things that that does is it tears down some of the idols that I look to for joy.
‘‘Lord, Help Me’
And so I tend to define my joy in success, or my own spiritual performance, or how good of a husband I am, or how well my relationships are going. When I wake up in the morning, that is where I am tempted to go to find my joy. So if I don’t fight to find it in God, I just won’t.
So the main things I am doing every day to fight for joy is I am trying to look away from those things. I am fighting in my heart to look away from those and fight until I really look to Jesus. And for me it happens mainly in the word and in prayer. So, for example, right now, I am reading the Gospel of Luke. And as I am reading through this incredible story about Jesus and the things he did and the things he said, I am pleading with God to open the eyes of my heart to see how incredible Jesus is.
So when I am reading chapter 1 and everyone is rejoicing at the coming of this King, I am asking myself: Man, does my heart rejoice like this in Jesus, and why not? God, help me rejoice. Help me to see. And so when I am reading Scripture, it is always this kind of back and forth with God as I am listening to him and I am pleading with him: Lord, help me respond well. Give me grace. I need your Spirit.
And it doesn’t always happen right then, though. It is not this like automatic switch I flip. Sometimes I leave with the same amount of joy I had before. But if I get so discouraged at my lack of joy that I am unwilling to fight for it, then I will never have joy in Christ, because it is not a magic switch. We have to fight for it though the word and prayer and fellowship, and all the means of grace God has given us. And God graciously grants it to us.
But it is that consistent fight. For me, at least, it really bears fruit — not just like one day here or there, but aiming for consistency. And that fight has been huge in my fight for joy. So it is like every day, individually, I have to fight. But it seems to me that inconsistency always leads to less joy for me in my experience, and consistency is always key.