On the 4th of July, my sister, her husband, and her kids came to visit us at our house. I have a niece that is 16 and a nephew that is 14. My niece has a wonderfully sensitive soul and is kind to everyone she meets. Unfortunately, sensitivity and kindness are not always valued among teenagers, and she has been experiencing mocking and ostracization from girls around her the last few months. My sister told us that my niece was really looking forward to coming to see my kids because she knew they would treat her well.
My kids are in their early 20’s and over the weekend they had a friend from college that was staying with us. My daughter, son and their friend invited my niece and nephew to go out and go paddle boarding with them on Sunday. My nephew didn’t want to go but my niece jumped at the opportunity and went out with these three young adults to go paddle boarding. There is something special about being accepted and loved on by “older, cool kids” and it’s even better when it’s on a lake.
When they returned, my niece couldn’t stop smiling. I asked her, how her time was, and she told me that it was “the best time she had had in forever.” She sat on the couch and radiated joy and happiness as she talked about all that they did at the lake. In that moment, all the love and attention from her older cousins had overwhelmed the treatment of her peers the previous weeks and she was the picture of happiness, her smile running from ear to ear.
That picture of my niece’s happiness has been stuck in my head as I have spent time with God the last few days. Not just because it is a reminder for me to pray for my niece, but also because that perfect picture of happiness reminds me of the God, I’m spending time with. Our God is ultimately and perfectly happy! He is joy itself and His smile is constant and beyond imagination. Yes…the causes of His joy may be different than what my niece experienced on the fourth of July, but His happiness is even more full and radiant than hers was.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
In the verse above, Jesus teaches His disciples that they can have fullness of joy. But it isn’t just any joy, it is the joy that belongs to God. Jesus refers to the joy that His disciples can have as “my joy” because it is bound up in the character and existence of God. He is filled with joy. He is joy!
In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul referred to God as the “blessed God.” The word that he used means happy. God is said to rejoice over His people with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) and He leads the rejoicing in the presence of the angels in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:10). In the parable of the talents, those who are faithful to God are invited to enter the “joy of your Master.” There are many different ways we may think about God, but our picture of who He is, is incomplete if it doesn’t include the fact that the Master is the source of all joy. He is happier than any person ever could be and the smile of a 16-year-old girl has been a wonderful reminder for me that we worship an eternally, perfectly joy-filled God. That thought makes me happy!