Forest Fires.Tornadoes. School Shootings. Conflict in the Middle East. Astronomical gas prices. Bitter presidential primary races. Unemployment. Everywhere we look, there is pain, suffering, confusion, and anxiety. In this midst of all of these overwhelming issues, how can a person truly have joy? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Biblically, there is a link to God’s glory and our joy.Psalm 43 is a heart-wrenching cry from a man who longed to experience the joy of the Lord.
Psalm 43 reads: “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
The writer cries out to God to defend and deliver him from his enemies. In other words, the outside world is a wreck and I need God to fix it. Sometimes, even self-proclaimed atheists can pray this prayer. Who doesn’t want God to smack their enemies and make life easier? The Psalmist even has this frustrating feeling that maybe God has given up on him. That God has rejected Him. That God is no longer there. How many of us have felt that pain in the dark night of the soul? Yet we know from Scripture, that God most definitely is a refuge and strength for those who trust in Him. He promises to never leave nor forsake us.
This anguished man desires something deeper. He wants the light of truth to lead him to God’s very presence. This assumes that he is in darkness. He is blinded. He can’t see. How many times have we been there? Alone, clueless, and despondent just waiting for an answer. In the moment of our deepest pain and most pressing fears, instead of fleeing from God, we need to fly to Him. We need to search the Scriptures and understand the objective truth about who God says He is.
As the Psalmist desires to go meet with God, he finds his exceeding joy in God Himself. True joy is found in no one else but the Lord of the universe. It’s not a sin to be happy, as long as we find that ultimate happiness in God Himself.
The problem is this: We find some much enjoyment in cheap substitutes that this world has to offer. It may be money, greed, sex, career, relationships, or any other idol that vies for attention from God. We were created to find our ultimate enjoyment in Christ alone. John Calvin said that the mind is an “idol factory” for sin. We are so blinded to the truth that ultimate satisfaction, exceeding joy, and great fulfillment are found in God Himself. Not His gifts or blessings no matter how wonderful those are. Those gifts (such as forgiveness, heaven, redemption, etc) are only means to an end. And the end is God Himself. Heaven is Jesus!!! He’s our great reward.
How do we experience true joy? By looking at Jesus and enjoying Him alone. Paul writes this to Christians in Ephesians 1:16-18: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
How desperately we need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened to see the glory of Christ and find our deepest satisfaction in Him alone. True joy is found in enjoying Christ and making much of Him. Even in the midst of national tragedies, natural disasters, economic downfalls, and personal loss. I pray that you find your true satisfaction in Christ alone as your ultimate Treasure. As I say many times, He alone is worth it.