The Joy is Gone

In the post Embracing and Experiencing Joy, I submitted that we would begin to look at how we can embrace and experience joy. As a child, I learned early on that I could learn what to do by seeing not only positive examples but negative ones too. In fact, call it my strange personality, learning from the negative or what not to do was a lot more persuasive and potent than from seeing the positive, what to do.

There are many examples of negative teaching in the bible; however, finding one where communicating that we need to embrace and experience joy was a challenge. I will try. Forgive me if this does not connect with you. I am going somewhere tomorrow, Lord willing, that will be its contrast. We just finished the celebrating Christmas. One of the most noted Christmas songs is Joy to the World. In looking at how we can embrace and experience joy, let’s take our clue from the first line which says “Joy to the world! The Lord is come.” That’s the positive.

In 1 Samuel 4, we learn both how to embrace and experience joy as well as how The Joy is Gone. 1 Samuel 4 may not be one of those passages that you are readily familiar, but it demonstrates our point. Please read the passage now by clicking on the link in either sentence before this one. In this passage, the Ark of Covenant or the Ark of God is the main character. The Ark symbolized and evidenced the dwelling place of God. In this chapter, the Ark is captured by the Philistines who initially are afraid when they learn the Israelites have the Ark. They said, ““We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert.” They remember God fighting for the Israelites in Egypt and are alarmed to say the least, but they fight on. If God was so powerful, why was the Ark captured. It was because they did not wait to hear from God when they posed their question as to why they were defeated.

They took the Ark as if it was a good luck charm. They just assumed that they would show up with the Ark and win. On one hand, we see that when we wait on God, we experience life as He plans. On the other hand, we see that we incur unnecessary harm when we fail to consult with God to ensure we are taking the path He has planned for us. Moreover, we see that we can’t superficially “take God” with us and expect victory. The Joy is Gone for the Israelites. Your joy too will be gone if you think that you can superficially take God with you. There was no doubt that God’s power was in and with the Ark, but God will not be “pimped” by any one.  Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were men of stature, were lost for not being responsible in responding to God. Imagine where was the joy for their families and the community of God.

How can we experience joy? We must genuinely invite God in our lives to be with us and to direct our lives. What challenges are you currently facing? Are you seeking direction for a path to take with a specific matter? Go to God in humility asking Him for your help and direction. Psalm 145:18 tells us that “The Lord is near to all who call on him,to all who call on him in truth.” We will see a positive example tomorrow, Lord willing.


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