Aug 29, 2013
Recently I wrote that we don’t need to fear trials, because God promises that every trial will bring us more joy in Jesus Christ.
But a reader responded with a crucial question — “How does this help if I’ve never experienced joy in Christ?”
I am sure that others have the same struggle. So I thought I’d answer this question here, by sharing seven questions I ask myself when I find that I have no joy in Christ.
I covered the first two questions in the previous post (click here to see it). Today I’ll cover the rest.
Am I seeking joy in Christ with a heart of repentance?
This does not mean we have conquered every sin. But it means we are not stubbornly clinging to sin. It means we are confessing and turning our hearts from all known sin (1 John 1:9). [Put your cursor over the references and the verse will appear.]
This is crucial, because God promises joy to those who trust Christ (John 6:35; John 7:38; 1Peter 1:8). But if I’m stubbornly clinging to sin, then I’m not trusting Christ, because I’m trusting sin, and not Christ, as my all-satisfying Treasure (Jer 2:12-13).
I remember a time when, to my shame, my greatest excitement was money. At the same time, I was discouraged that I did not have more joy in Christ. But it was not until I turned my heart from money to Christ, that I once again experienced times of great joy in Him.
To help with this I will often pray over verses like Isaiah 1:15; Acts 2:38; Joel 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.
Am I seeking joy in Christ with humble trust in God’s will?
If I am angry with God about trials in my life, or am grumbling to God about what He has or hasn’t done, then I’m not trusting Him.
And if I’m not trusting Him, then I’m proud — because I think I’m wiser than God. But Peter says God opposes the proud, and gives grace only to the humble (1Pet 5:5). So to receive the grace of joy in Christ, I must humbly trust God’s will.
In Psalm 73, Asaph says he was bitter that the wicked prospered while he suffered (Psalm 73:3, 13-14). But once he saw that God would judge the wicked (Psalm 73:18), and that God would be his all-satisfying portion forever (Psalm 73:26,28), he was transformed — so filled with joy in God that he desired nothing on earth (Psalm 73:25).
To strengthen humble trust I have found it helpful to pray over passages like Proverbs 3:5-6; Daniel 4:37; Job 1:21; and Job 2:10.
Am I seeking joy in Christ with prayer?
Sometimes the reason God does not give us something is because we have not asked Him for it (James 4:2).
This might sound obvious, but how often do I find myself discouraged about something that I have not brought before the Father in earnest prayer? (Much too often.)
So pray and ask God to give you times where you experience great joy in beholding Jesus Christ. To help with this I use passages like Psalm 86:4-5; Psalm 51:12; John 17:13; Psalm 43:3-4.
Am I seeking joy in Christ through the Scriptures?
Joy in Christ is given by the supernatural work of the Spirit, as He enlightens the eyes of our hearts to see and feel Jesus’ glory (Ephesians 1:18). And God gives this work of the Spirit as we hear His Word with faith —
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3:5
So joy in Christ is not found by closing our eyes, emptying our minds, and asking God to make Jesus real to us. Joy in Christ is found as we prayerfully meditate on God’s Word, and by the Spirit’s work see and feel the truth of God’s Word. We meet Jesus Christ most powerfully in the truth of God’s Word.
So pray earnestly over verses describing the glory of Christ, asking the Spirit to help you see and feel the glory of Christ. Here are some Scriptures that recently have been helpful for me — Hebrews 1:3-4; John 1:14; John 20:30-31; Luke 19:41-42; John 17:21-23.
Am I seeking joy in Christ persistently?
God promises that everyone who comes to Christ with faith will have their hearts filled with joy in Him. But God also says there are times when He temporarily withholds this joy from us.
We can see this in the book of Psalms, which shows godly people who are patiently waiting for God to satisfy them in Himself (Psalm 13:1-2; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 42:1-3; Psalm 43:1-5).
These delays are part of God’s love for us, since they deepen our hunger for joy in Christ, and give us all the more pleasure when we experience joy in Christ.
So humbly trust the Father’s timing. And keep seeking Christ patiently and persistently, with prayer and meditation on God’s Word. He will, in His perfect time, fill you with the joy of beholding Him.
That’s what David experienced —I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)
If you know someone this would help, email it to them using the “share” button below. Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.
If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- How The Holy Spirit Helped Me Feel The Truth Of Jesus
- Jonathan Edwards’ Experience Of The Glory Of Christ
- Why Do I Feel Far From God? (4-min video)
- Don’t Settle For Just Knowing The Truth — FEEL The Truth (4-min video)
(Picture is from everystockphoto by paleontour. To see details of the licensing click here.)