A lot of my friends are having babies. Which means, a lot of my friends are posting a lot of pictures and videos of their adorable new little ones (this isn’t a rant, I promise– I love all the posts). The main baby video, or picture, I come across while scrolling through my newsfeed? A clip, or shot, of one of these little tikes laughing. Seriously, so many of the new moms and dads I know take immense joy in their little one simply giggling.
This phenomenon reminds me of how my dad loved tickling me when I was a young girl, telling me the silliest jokes, and even breaking out into song in the middle of the grocery store on many occasions (most commonly sung, the hit song The Tide is High), all for the sole reason of making me laugh. He took joy in my joy.
Good parents do that, you know. It’s why they get so excited when good things happen for their kids. It’s why they lug around cameras and take way too many pictures of their kids in an effort to hold onto and to somehow make the moments of their children’s happiness last. Parents take joy in their children’s joy.
We are God’s children. As Galatians 3:26 puts it, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (NLT). All of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, created by a glorious Father. According to Psalm 149:4 our father “delights in His people;” meaning, our Father delights in us, just like those parents delight in their children, because He is a good, good parent.
Why do we so often forget this? Why do we forget that we follow a God who is not only mighty and glorious, but also a kind father who takes delight in His children? Why is it so hard for us to grasp that God takes joy in our joy?
Maybe it’s because He’s not just a human father with limited power; but, instead, a father who also happens to be an all-powerful God. Either we get caught up in the, “why doesn’t He fix all my problems” issue, or we assume He would rather allow us to suffer for Him and His message. Or we imagine He has bigger problems to worry about.
We shouldn’t forget the reminder Isaiah 63:9 gives us: “In all their distress He too was distressed” (NIV). God suffers when we suffer. He is the very designer of empathy; he feels what we feel. He isn’t a distant God who is ambivalent to our trials, and He isn’t a judgmental God who takes joy in our suffering or expects it as a true testament to faith. No, our God comes alongside us and grieves with us.
Why doesn’t He change it, then? If He’s such a good Father, if He’s suffering with us, and He’s all-powerful? We don’t know. We aren’t all-knowing; we’re just human. I do know that He never promised we wouldn’t suffer, that we wouldn’t go through trials; He gave us life, and that’s a part of it.
But, you know what He does say? He says to “consider it pure joy” when we face these trials (James 1:2, NIV). How can we do that? Because, as scripture explains, we gain perseverance, maturity, strength, and all those other important things from suffering. I know that might not seem worth it. But, He’s not the one inflicting it, He’s the one trying to make joy of it.
We don’t have a Father who only suffers with us; who only promises pure joy will come of it. Our Father does that loving fatherly thing where He replaces our ashes with beauty (Isaiah 61:3). This reminds me of a kind father sweeping his girl up after a bad day and doing all he can to replace that bad memory with a good one.
All this to say: God wants us happy. But, even more so, He delights in our happiness. He presses repeat on your beautiful joy. He is taken with your smile.
I’m not saying He wants us to forget everything and only focus on our happiness in a selfish way. If happiness without depth were His aim, He wouldn’t allow our suffering (even though it troubles him deeply).
Our God, our Heavenly Father, is the author of joy. He created it. He designed it. He also enabled us to find joy outside of Him. So, maybe, instead of assuming His path is all holy suffering, maybe we can trust that God simply wants us to find joy in all circumstances.
Maybe you’ve thought you weren’t allowed to be happy, that Christians shouldn’t desire that because you’ve been led to believe it’s shallow or worldly. But, when discussing our desires, in John 16:24, we’re told to ask for what we desire so that our joy would be complete. Other translations use the word abundant and full. God desires for us to have complete joy, abundant joy, and full joy.
We can desire joy. We can also trust that since God want us to have joy, and takes joy in our joy, that trusting Him will lead us to it.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24 (HCSB)
I’d go so far as to say, maybe He designed you to have a deep love for warm chocolate chip cookies, or sappy love stories, or long runs at dusk, or playing with your puppy, or watching your child giggle. Maybe, just maybe, those little pockets of happiness in your life are gifts from your glorious Father. Because, while He never promised life wouldn’t have trials—He’s making sure you still find joy amongst it all. Right in the middle of your life.
Maybe, if you look a little closer, He’s leaving you little joy-bombs every single day.
And maybe, He’s enjoying it all with us. Thinking what a good idea He had when He made chocolate. Taking in the sunset with you after your run. Thinking how beautiful your child is when they fall asleep.
Catching His breath alongside us, reminding us that while there is suffering—He won’t let us only have suffering. He will always intervene for us, even in a small way—because He can’t resist seeing the smile on our face and hearing the avalanche of our praise. That’s why He made joy for us.