Archive for April, 2021

Joyful Ache


This is an excerpt from the “C.S. Lewis and Joy” Devotional, a reading plan from Lewis’ book “Shadowlands and Songs of Light.”

In C. S. Lewis’ autobiography, Surprised by Joy, he tells of experiencing an other-worldly joy ─ a specific Joy that defies our modern understanding. This idea of Joy is not a satisfied desire but an unsatisfied desire ─ a deep longing for God, a hungry pursuit of God’s heart that never ends and is more satisfying than any earthly happiness. In Shadowlands and Songs of Light, Lewis writes: “Joy—that sharp, wonderful Stab of Longing—has a lithe, muscular lightness to it. It’s deft. It produces longing that weighs heavy on the heart, but it does so with precision and coordination…It dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away. It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it.”

Lewis recalls three seemingly trivial and disconnected events with a common thread: he experienced a sudden, piercing pang of longing ─ a bittersweet ache and yearning for something far-off, other-worldly, and unnamed during each event. He would later recognize these sudden aches of longing: a deep spiritual hunger for God ─ not just for an intellectual knowledge of God, but for a real relationship with Him. These deep longings in Lewis’ life ─ these stabs of Joy ─ worked as flashing sign-markers pointing him down the path toward Christ. True Joy, as Lewis presents it to us, is the ache for something beyond this world. The Holy Spirit uses this restlessness to awaken spiritual hunger. When little moments of life ─ like the way the light falls on a summer evening ─ stir you with a deep longing that’s hard to define, don’t look to earthly pursuits to fill the void. Instead, allow the ache to push you deeper into your relationship with God. Pursue Him. Allow that longing for Him to become the hottest fire in your heart.


From the Mozarabic Rite, a liturgical rite of the Latin Church once used generally in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania), in what is now Spain and Portugal.  Developed during Visigoth (Arian Christian) rule of the Iberian peninsula  in the 500s AD.

Jesus our Master,

walk with us on the road

as we yearn to reach the heavenly country,

so that following your light,

we may stay on the way of righteousness

and never wander in the horrible darkness of this world’s night

while you, the way, the truth, and the life,

are shining within us.

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Written by Rachael Carmen, a contemporary author and speaker.

Worry, fear and anxiety are the responses our flesh gives. When the Joy of the Lord is our strength, we respond in the Spirit and in hope, faith, and love.  These traits come from daily walking in the Spirit. This daily walking in the spirit is crucial to our responses in life. The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you spend pouring over the Word and communing with Him in prayer, the more our responses will be Spirit led. We can also memorize God’s Word so that we have it like a shield around our heart for our darkest and hardest days.

As God becomes our focus, our eyes will shift from the temporal to the eternal. Yes, we will still have days that we struggle, but we will also have the tools we need to combat the very real battle that is going on in our lives But, even still, there will be hard days. And our strength and joy will rise as we wait on God. We don’t always understand the why in the waiting– and joy is hard in those places. Yet joy isn’t based on our circumstances but on our relationship and the knowledge we have it that relationship with God.


Written by Rachael Carmen,the author of today’s meditation.

 Father, help us to remember that it is through your death on the cross that we can find total and complete joy. It is a gift that is given freely to us, if we accept it. Help us to make a point each and every day to count it all a joy, even in the trials of life. Also, Lord help us to pass our joy unspeakable and full of glory to everyone we meet.  In your name, Amen.

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The Joy of the Lord


Written by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), an American pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.

The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful. In this day of universal apprehension when men’s hearts are failing them for fear of those things that are coming upon the earth, we Christians are strategically placed to display a happiness that is not of this world and to exhibit a tranquility that will be a little bit of heaven here below. All this takes for granted that sin has been dealt with by sincere repentance and thorough amendment of life. It assumes that we are walking in the light of truth, for true joy cannot be artificially induced. The “keep smiling” school of applied psychology is not even remotely related to the true faith of Christ. The chief fun of the comedian and the good humor of the wit who is the life of the party are like flowers growing on old graves, briefly interesting, but evanescent and always touched with sadness. But the fountain of Christian joy flows out from the throne of God, pure, refreshing and sweet everlastingly.


Written by Calvin Hoogendoorn, a contemporary pastor.

 Lord, protect me from believing that human achievement can refine your gift of joy. Help me to praise your name, rest in your love, and trust in you alone as Savior. Amen.

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Protecting Joy


Written by Calvin Hoogendoorn, a contemporary pastor.

Joy is a precious gift. It is so precious that it must be protected from forces that suppress it. In fact, Paul’s tone exudes urgency as he calls believers to be vigilant about guarding their spiritual birthright. The words “rejoice in the Lord” can also be interpreted to mean “let the Lord be the one who makes you happy” or “find your joy in him and in him alone.”

The great threat to real joy is the belief that joy is either a reward for good work or the fruit of a combination of God’s love and human achievement. The Bible, however, directs us to ask, “With what shall I come before the LORD … ?” (Micah 6:6). The answer is “Nothing—nothing but my sin and emptiness.” I have nothing that deserves the Lord’s reward and his joy. Joy is a gift, the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible considers any other perspective a betrayal of the gospel. No wonder Paul says, “Watch out.” God desires that we place our confidence in the gracious character and loving work of Jesus Christ alone. The psalmist says, “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! … Come, let us rejoice in him” (Psalm 66:5-6). Be vigilant in protecting your joy in Jesus Christ!


Augustine of Hippo (354-430), an early Christian theologian and philosopher. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius (modern day Annaba, Algeria) and is viewed as one of the most important church fathers in Western Christianity.

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels.  Rejoice now, all the whole earth, bright with a glorious splendor. Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people. For in Christ’s ressurection, joy has come to the whole earth. Amen.

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The Joy of the Walk


Written by Bill Sytsma, a contemporary pastor and author.

The metallic, grinding sound was painful to hear. As I looked at my driving instructor, he stated flatly, “If it makes that kind of noise, something is wrong.” It should have been obvious. Even though I was just learning how to drive with a stick shift (manual transmission), I should have known that. The grinding noise indicated a problem. In Psalm 51, the psalmist points out a nagging sound in his walk with God that indicated something was wrong. Sin in his life had caused disharmony with God—and, because of that, the joy of his salvation was lacking. The lack of joy is a grinding sound that indicates something is wrong. When everything is working properly in a vehicle, there is a quiet, powerful rumbling of the engine that is not overwhelmed by grinding. When everything is harmonious in our walk with God, joy is present. That is the way it is supposed to be. If our walk with God is cluttered with sin, joy will be lacking. If we believe our walk with God is something that we dutifully and begrudgingly approach by fulfilling legalistic obligations, joy will be lacking. The lack of joy is an indication that something is wrong. God created us to know him and to enjoy his presence. When we develop habits that help us walk in step with God, we will know the joy of his presence.


From the Mozarabic Rite, a liturgical rite of the Latin Church once used generally in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania), in what is now Spain and Portugal.  Developed during Visigoth (Arian Christian) rule of the Iberian peninsula  in the 500s AD.

The heavens are shining with the clear beauty of the stars, O Lord,

and the very earth is made beautiful by a shining light,

because you appeared to the world

from your holy dwelling place.

Remove from our hearts all sadness,

for you came for this,

to make all things new.

Enlighten our eyes to purify us

that we may behold you forever,

that we who preach to the nations the glad joys of your glad

appearing may be made

with you in infinite joy.  Amen.

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A Definition of Joy


Written by Laurie Zuverink, a contemporary pastor and author.

I spend a lot of time with teenagers. I also spend time trying to figure out the words they’re using sometimes, because teens like to give words new meanings and even come up with new words. I like wondering what lies at the heart of a word. When I started to think about the word joy, I looked it up in the dictionary. The general definition of joy was listed as “an emotion evoked by well-being or success.” So. we can feel joy when we have good times with people we love, when we appreciate art or view some breathtaking scenery, when we accomplish something challenging, and more. But where does joy fit in when situations are not happy, beautiful, or successful? Is joy just a happy response to good times?

Biblical joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of God’s love growing in us. For a believer in Jesus Christ, joy is more than a fleeting response to happy times. Joy is cultivated, pruned, and harvested throughout all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. Jesus laid the foundation of joy when he freed us from sin, with all its pain and suffering, and made new life possible for us. Joy in Christ’s success lies at the heart of who we are in Christ. This is the joy we claim. This is the joy we cultivate!


Written by Scott Cairns, a contemporary American poet, professor, and spiritual essayist.

 O Holy One Who Comes, we turn again to you, and we open our hearts, we open our minds, we open our entire beings to your approach. We ask for strength and wisdom that we may now prepare the way. We ask that all may receive you in joy. Now and forever. Amen.

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My Joy … Your Joy


Written by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), a Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional “My Utmost for His Highest.”

What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8). Jesus prayed that our joy might continue fulfilling itself until it becomes the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “…the cares of this world,…choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is. Have the right relationship with God, finding your joy there, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Be a fountain through which Jesus can pour His “living water.” Stop being hypocritical and proud, aware only of yourself, and live “your life…hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). A person who has the right relationship with God lives a life as natural as breathing wherever he goes. The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing.


A matin, from the Byzantine Rite. The Byzantine Rite consists of liturgical texts developed to guide services of vespers, compline, midnight office, matins, and hours. The original Rites were developed in the late 4th century.  They have been adapted and are still used by Eastern Orthodox churches today.

As you have once given light

to the blind from birth,

shine upon my soul, which does not see your light,

O merciful Lord,

but lies buried in the darkness of sinful forgetfulness

and in the cares of this life. Amen.

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Enjoying God


Written by George Whitfield (1714-1770), an Anglican cleric and evangelist who was one of the founders of Methodism.

O! What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, with what unspeakable joy and consolation shall we then look back on our past sincere and hearty services. Think you then, my dear hearers, we shall repent we had done too much; and blush we were so backward to give up all to God; when he intended hereafter to give us himself? Let me…exhort you, my brethren, to have always before you the unspeakable happiness of enjoying God. And think withal, that every degree of holiness you neglect, every act of piety you omit, is a jewel taken out of your crown, a degree of blessedness lost in the vision of God. O! Do but always think and act thus, and you will no longer be laboring to compound matters between God and the world; but, on the contrary, be daily endeavoring to give up yourselves more and more unto him; you will be always watching, always praying, always aspiring after farther degrees of purity and love, and consequently always preparing yourselves for a fuller sight and enjoyment of that God, in whose presence there is fullness of joy, and at whose right-hand there are pleasures for ever more. Amen! Amen!


Written by Rachel Wojnarowski, a contemporary Christian author.

This world seems to move faster and faster.

And I’m trying to keep up.

But God, in the whirlwind,

Instead I get caught up.

Like an unbeatable force it pulls me in

But I know eventually I cannot win.

I must learn to rest in your perfect peace

And though good, let all endeavors cease.

Oh that my feet would mimic your pace.

So your joy would be set on my face.

Help me, Jesus, to slow down when you would.

Help me, Lord, to rest as I should.

Thank you for loving me just as I am;

Thank you that rest is part of your plan.  Amen.

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Written by Debbie McDaniel, a contemporary Christian author

Many of us may have heard Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” over long years. But what’s interesting to know is that it’s set right within a Psalm where the author is writing about huge adversity. It’s not written about when times are good, but when times are hard. Situations were changing. The Psalmist cried out to God in anguish, he was surrounded on all sides by the enemy, he felt pushed back, and about to fall. Yet right in the midst of huge struggles shared, this chapter both starts and ends with the same verse, of giving thanks and praise unto God. Such a powerful reminder to us: True joy is never dependent on our circumstances. We can still choose to give thanks. We can still believe in God’s goodness and love, for that’s what carries us through all difficult seasons. We might be facing the toughest of times, but the truth is this, He’s still given us today. He’s with us and will never leave or fail us. His love covers us, His peace sustains us, and His joy gives us the strength to face every trial and obstacle with courage and grace. We can rest in the security that Truth brings. May His blessings overwhelm you today as you look to Him and choose joy.


From “The Valley of Vision — a book of Puritan Prayer.”

It is your duty and privilege to rejoice in God: He requires it of you for all his favors of grace. Rejoice then in the Giver and his goodness, be happy in him, O my heart, and in nothing but God, for whatever a man trusts in, from that he expects happiness. He who is the ground of your faith should be the substance of your joy. Where then comes heaviness and dejection, when joy is sown in you: promised by the Father, bestowed by the Son, in wrought by the Holy Spirit, yours by grace, your birthright in believing?

Are you seeking to rejoice in yourself from an evil motive of pride and self-reputation? You have nothing of your own but sin, nothing to move God to be gracious or to continue his grace towards you. If you forget this, you will lose your joy.

Are you grieving under a sense of indwelling sin? Let godly sorrow work repentance, as the true spirit which the Lord blesses, and which creates fullest joy; Sorrow for self opens rejoicing in God, Self-loathing draws down divine delights.

Hast thou sought joys in some creature comfort? Look not below God for happiness; fall not asleep in Delilah’s lap. Let God be all in all to thee, and joy in the fountain that is always full.

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Written by Maree Dee, a contemporary writer, speaker, advocate, and ministry leader.

From a biblical perspective, we see “joy” and “happiness” as two different things. Joy is a gift from God received when we choose to abide in him. It is based solely on our relationship with God. It will withstand the storms and not be dependent on our circumstances. Have you ever felt this kind of joy? It is incredible and makes no human sense. Our hearts can be full of delight even though our world appears to be crumbling all around us. Joy is dependent on our relationship with Christ, not on our circumstances.

Happiness is entirely dependent on what is going on around us or to us. When things are going well, we are happy, but the minute they take a turn for the worse our happiness goes away. Joy does not have to go away…In crises God and I are tight, and my faith is unwavering. Each of us has a vulnerable spot; mine happens to be when things are going well. I don’t always make him a priority and my dependence on him waivers.

Sometimes we do lose our joy, but the good news is we can find it with ease by turning to God who is always waiting for us. Is something hindering God’s joy from flowing into your life? You might ask yourself: Am I seeking happiness over joy? Do I spend time in His word? Is obedience to God a problem? Am I abiding in Christ – spending time and deepening my relationship with God? Remember we have to choose “joy” and trust God will restore it.  God does want us to have happiness in our lives but attaining joy must be the priority. Once you are abiding in him, by all means, make sure you are adding things to your life which make you happy. Knowing the difference between the two will be essential to attaining both. Remember joy is a gift! Don’t waste the gift or fail to open it. If you do, you could end up joyless and unhappy all at the same time. We know life is hard and we won’t always have happiness, but joy is something we can have in all circumstances.


Written by Meg Bucher, a contemporary writer and teacher.

All of creation reminds us of You. The beauty of nature and marvel of the changing seasons. The uniqueness in all of us and the diversity in the daily horizon. Surround us with reminders of You often, through nature, the people you place in our lives, and the Bible. May the Holy Spirit help us to understand Your Word, and will for our lives. Bless our hearts with sustaining joy, and the strength to hold onto it no matter what.

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