Monday, December 4, 2017

The Well Of Joy: Finding Joy In The Lord Whenever Everything Else Runs Dry

Image result for water well
Isaiah 12:2-4 “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.”

Introduction: An Old Water-Well

When I was growing up, we had an onsite water-well that supplied water to our house. Five under-ground springs fed the well. The water supply to that well was so ample that water would commonly overflow the main shaft which contained the well-pump. I can scarcely remember a time when the water was not overflowing. Whenever the dry summers would come, even though our neighbors' wells would run dry - our well never ran out of water. That well was consistent. The water supply was virtually unaffected by prevailing weather conditions.

Defining Joy

Whenever I think of joy in Jesus, I think of that old well. We could define joy as "abiding, constant confidence in God despite the circumstances". Wells were common imagery used by God in describing the joy found in Him. Isaiah utilized the imagery of a well in the opening passage of today's post. The reality of finding one's joy in God is more prized whenever joy is sapped out of the things of life. 

Joy in God in the dry times

In the Middle East, finding water was tantamount to finding oil. Isaac, the son of promise born to Abraham and Sarah became a well-driller - a water well-driller that is. In Genesis 26:18-25 we find Isaac re-digging wells formerly dug by his father. Several had been filled-full of dirt and stones by the Philistines of Abraham and Isaac's day. Isaac would from one well to another in search of water. When opposition met Isaac at every stopped-up well, he kept digging until he found water. Isaac saw God's goodness in the circumstances and expressed joy in Genesis 26:22 

"He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” 

It wasn't long after Isaac made his statement about the well that we find God "showing-up" in Genesis 26:23-25 

"Then he went up from there to Beersheba. 24 The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham;
Do not fear, for I am with you.
I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham." 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well."

Now remember, there was a famine in Isaac's day. He had been in search of water. He found a well that he could finally call his own. He saw that well as a sign that God's favor was with Him. In recognizing the goodness of God, Isaac had demonstrated the capacity for greater illumination from the Lord. 

How joy in the Lord can provide what is needed for life in this world

Perhaps you reading this post today are experiencing "dried-up" wells. The joy of life's areas or "wells" have been drained. Maybe a relationship has went sour. Perhaps finances are dried up. A painful hurt has resurfaced and you're not sure how you will get over it. 

Oftentimes disappointments, worries, fears or troubles of all kinds can assail the Christian's faith. Joy in the things of life and in relationships are all from God (see James 1:17). But now, what happens whenever such joys diminish? What occurs whenever nothing else brings joy like it once did? This is where we must turn to the source of every joy - the One that is the essence of joy - God.

The wellspring of joy in God can never run dry. Jesus states in John 7:37-39

"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

The Christian has an "inner-well" that never runs dry. The source of joy is in Jesus Himself. We flee to His word to find our joy. We flee to Him in prayer to be in His presence. Jesus meets us in the Word and prayer and quenches the driest of souls. I say these words not from the standpoint of sentiment. This truth is rubber-meets-the-road reality. 

God wants the Christian to discover joy in Him

What God is desiring to do in the life of the believer that has dried-up joys is to find joy in Him. The psalmist writes in Psalm 63:1-5

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips."

Those who have the most joy in God are those that have learned to find joy in Him whenever all other wells run dry. This doesn't mean that the trials will go away or that the pressures of life will evaporate. Instead, God will give His "abiding, constant confidence" to push through and rest in Him despite the circumstances. Joy must be distinguished from happiness. Happiness is a fleeting bliss dependent upon circumstances. Joy is that inner, abiding confidence. True joy is the well provided by God in the dry seasons. In time, the joy of the Lord can provide what is needed to other areas of life. When we have Jesus, we have the joy we need - even when it may seem that joy is not to be found. 

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