A church member’s parting words to his pastor were penetrating and pertinent. He simply said, “Whatever you do, don’t miss the joy!” These were the words of Robert Louis Stevenson. At life’s end he continued, “To miss the joy is to miss everything!”
Whenever I talk to young men and women who are asking about their potential careers I say, “Find something you love to do and find someone who will pay you to do it and you will live a happy live.” As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “To miss the joy is to miss everything!”
Work is as fundamental to life as anything can be. In the beginning God gave Adam and Eve the assignment to work (Gen 2:15) and in the New Testament Paul says that if a man will not work he should not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Whether it is on the job, in the community or in the home, work is fundamental to life.
So why not have joy in the thing you have to do everyday? Unfortunately some people force themselves out of bed every day, dreading the work that is before them, with no joy.
Isn’t joy on the job something that everyone really wants? Even the Dwarfs in Disney’s Snow White encouraged one another to “Whistle while you work… When hearts are high the time will fly, so whistle while you work!”
If we spend 8 hours a day working; 5 days a week; 50 weeks a year; for the average work life of 40 years; that’s 80,000 hours of work in a lifetime! It’s 3,333 days or about 10 full years of work on the job and that does not include work around the house, in church, in the community, on mission, the list goes on. That’s just way too much time to be mad, sad, miserable, grumbling or angry. We need joy!
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 8:15 (HCSB) “So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life that God gives him under the sun.”
Joy is a hallmark of the Christian experience. It is evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives. It takes the right circumstances to keep us happy, but it only takes Christ’s presence to give us Joy. Psalm 16:11 (HCSB) says, “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.”
Happiness depends upon what’s happening all around us. Joy depends upon what’s happening inside us. Troubling times have a way of robbing us of our happiness. Only taking our eyes off Jesus robs us of our Joy.
I remember growing up in Sunday School singing a song that still being joy to my heart: “If you want Joy, real Joy, wonderful Joy, Let Jesus come into your heart. Your sins he’ll wash away, Your night he’ll turn to day. Your life he’ll make it over anew. If you want Joy, real Joy, wonderful Joy, Let Jesus come into your heart.”