How can you avoid growing older? You can’t, but you can have JOY through the process. The focus of the world on the young’s bodies inundates us at every turn, making it hard to appreciate our hard earned wrinkles. Ageing parents and adult children bring new stresses to our life. Questions about health and when and if you should retire are now on the horizen. Technology, that you just began to grasp is changing as I write this. So, where’s the JOY? I’ve heard it’s in the journey, but is it really?
Joy always brings to mind the acrostic that I learned when I was young – JOY – Jesus/Others/Yourself. The Y being last is key and is why I believe so many aging people stay stressed, sick and obsessed with their aging bodies. When we put our focus first on the Y or “yourself” instead of on Jesus, the “me” factor takes over and it sucks us dry of true joy. Self gratification only brings temporary happiness that has to be filled over and over again. It’s like those botox injections. They don’t last!! Life is far better when I let Jesus take care of the wrinkles, deep within my soul, that need to be smoothed out.
But what about suffering? Can you have JOY in suffering? I’ve seen poeple that do and I’ve seen people that don’t. I want to be like those that do, because the ones that don’t are miserable individuals. Does this mean that I won’t have bad days? No, but true JOY should pick me up from those bad days and help me get through tomorrow. True JOY lifts the spirits and puts the suffering person’s focus on others instead of themselves. It gives them something to live for. Do you remember the pain of bearing a child, yet the JOY that came after? What if you focused only on that pain after you had that beautiful child? With Jesus, you can still have JOY through suffering.
The story of Lazurus is an example of JOY in suffering. In John Chapter 11 it says that Lazarus was sick and facing death when the situation was brought to Jesus who was in another city. Jesus didn’t come quickly to rescue Lazurus. In fact, he waited two more days before he left. I’m sure Lazarus was scared, but he remained faithful. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus was dead. Then, Jesus did a miraculous thing! He raised Him from the dead!! It says that after he was raised Lazarus remained faithful. His living testimony of Christ’s healing in his life, and his willingness to share the JOY, brought many to Christ. What if he had been bitter about Jesus taking his own sweet time and rejected Jesus when he awoke? He could have, you know. Instead, he clung to the truth that Jesus wept for his death before he raised him. Just as Jesus asked if “His” cup could be taken away before he died on the cross, it seems that he wished Lazurus did not have to die, but Jesus, as God, knew that Lazarus must suffer for the cause that would bring many people to believe in His name. This amazing combination of Jesus and the faithfulness of a believer brought big change into the world.
As we embrace the newness of growing older and the changes that it brings, let’s remember that it’s not the temporary emotion of happiness that we need, but deep JOY in all circumstances to get us through the good and the bad.
Nehemiah 8:10 – The JOY of the Lord is my strength