“I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22).

JESUS SPOKE OF A JOY SO STRONG THAT THE WORLD WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO TEAR IT FROM HIS DISCIPLES’ HEARTS. Not even the worst onslaughts of persecution could breach this bright fortress within the souls of the faithful. To know this Friend — indeed, even to seek Him — is to know a joy that makes even the weak strong.

And yet the joy that is available to us is not something we can take for granted. Although it is strong, it is not impossible to lose. Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying that “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” is true from a spiritual, as well as a worldly, standpoint. Discouragement is not just something that happens to us — we allow it to happen to us.

Whatever things may discourage us and deprive us of joy, we need not wonder where these things come from. We have a spiritual adversary, Satan, who seeks our downfall, and to that end he labors with malice and energy. His purpose is to undermine our faith with doubt, replace our courage with confusion, and drag us downward into despair. He is up to no good, to say the least.

But we are taught to take a stubborn stand against the attacks of our enemy: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8,9). We may be vulnerable, but we’re not helpless. We’re free to choose the joy of truth over the sadness of deception.

The joy of seeking God is of such value that we ought to guard it with our lives. This is something we should simply refuse to give up. Real joy is worth more than anything we might exchange it for, it is a vital part of our defense against evil, and we ought to hold it in our hearts with a tenacious grip. From day to day, there is nothing the devil would dislike any more than to see us drink deep drafts of pure, joyous laughter. Those who are not only joyful but determined in their joy are almost impossible for him to defeat. Try as he may, there is little he can do with those who’ve made up their minds to rejoice.

“Refuse to be downcast. Refuse to be checked in your upward climb. Love and laugh” (A. J. Russell).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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