Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
Let’s be honest, joy is a bit elusive for most people these days.
I could point to the obvious culprit, the COVID-19 pandemic ravishing our world, but I think it’s more than that. The truth is, joy is elusive for most people on a regular basis, it’s just now there is something to blame.
The good news is, we don’t have to live a joyless existence! In fact, we can live with such joy that it actually gives us strength.
This week on social media, I referenced a verse from Nehemiah 8 that says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Neh. 8:10, NIV).
It seems like the most fitting of verses to help us through this unsettling time in our world when so many people are grieving and fearful of the unknown. Its implications are simple, you don’t have to be strong through this, let the joy, faith, and hope you’ve found in Jesus be your strength. Simple, right?
Well, maybe easier said than done.
The truth is, there is a vast ocean that separates head knowledge from heart knowledge when it comes to Jesus. There is “knowing about Jesus” and “knowing Jesus,” which are two very different things.
Knowledge is good; it’s definitely a starting place, but alone it is not going to sustain us in the dark moments of life. What sustains us is the joy found and experienced through a relationship with Jesus.
For years I found myself floating somewhere in the middle of that ocean between knowledge and relationship. I knew A LOT about Jesus but had never crossed over to the other side. Life would hit… conflict, heartache, disappointment, etc. and I would flounder. I would look up verses to memorize and read self-help from Christian authors but no lasting hope would come.
What’s the point in knowing Jesus if he doesn’t help? It’s a fair question.
Further introspection revealed the problem. I didn’t really “know” Jesus, I knew about him and that wasn’t enough.
I finally crossed over that ocean through a very dark season in my life when I had the choice to either seek him and reach out for his hand or let my little boat sink under the waves of despair. When I reached out, Jesus was there, standing on the shore, waiting to grasp my hand and pull me close. That day changed everything.
Life is not perfect because I know Jesus, far from it. Yet, there is a joy I’ve found knowing him that gives me strength that makes no earthly sense.
There are times when I get angry and frustrated with him because life is not turning out the way I thought, but like any relationship, I talk to him about those things. I’m real, raw, and probably more honest with God than you’d care to know, but this is what it means to “know” him and to do life with him.
It all started with seeking him.
A quick side note, joy is not the same as happiness. I am not at all happy about what is happening in our world right now or being stuck in my home, and yet there is a joy that sustains me right now because I know the one who is in control.
Do you know Jesus this way?
Friends, there is nothing special about me. I don’t say that in a self-deprecating way, but rather to simply say I’m just as broken as anyone. I have parts of my past that are shameful and parts that are glorious, neither of which brought me closer or pushed me farther from Jesus.
I have gotten to know him by seeking him and that relationship sustains me with a joy that no one can ever take from me.
Again, do you know Jesus his way?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7 (NIV).
Seeking joy is all about seeking Jesus first. He is waiting – ask, seek, knock.
For Your Reflection…
Where are you seeking joy today? Is it in and through Jesus or is it elsewhere? Reach out to him.