Maybe you’re not happy because your job drains you, and the government takes advantage of you, and big corporations don’t care about you, and your wife complains about you, or your husband ignores you, and your boss doesn’t appreciate you, and terrorists want to kill you, and kids these days offend you. And if you hear all that and think, “You know what, that’s true,” then you’ve just identified why there’s not as much joy in you. And it’s not because of any of those other people. What’s the common denominator? It’s you/me, looking for joy in all the wrong places.
Jesus didn’t pray that you would be full of joy. He prayed that you would be full of his joy. He prayed that all believers would have “the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13b NIV) Was Jesus full of joy? He was and, guess what, his job drained him, his government took advantage of him, the big organizations of his day didn’t appreciate him. He wasn’t married, but his church complains about him and ignores him, and there are plenty of people who did and still today would like to kill him. His joy didn’t come from what others did to him. It came from what he could do for them. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
His joy came from sweating drops of blood, and feeling the crack of a whip on his back, and sitting still while he was pierced with nails, and suffering hell so that our sins would be forgiven and we would have a prepared home in heaven. You can’t control what a single other person does to you. But you can control what, by faith, you use your life to do. And because there will always be people who need you, Jesus prayed that you would find joy in serving them just as he found his greatest joy in serving you. Joy is internal, deep, long-lasting, independent of circumstances – true joy is found in Jesus.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand