There is a famous outreach drama called the "Thief of Joy" or something like that. It involves several kids with their favorite toys or their "joys" which are stolen one by one by the "thief of joy" while they are showing them off. Over the years, I've seen it done a lot with a lot of different actors. But by far my favorite "thief of joy" was this guy.
He was so good that he became a sort of recurring character - not a good role to be typecast in.
He was cunning and crafty and had the perfect way of sneaking up behind the others and snatching their "joy" right out of their hands and then scurrying off to the great laughter of all the kids watching.
I've been thinking this week of how true that drama is. The devil is really intent on stealing our joy.
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy." - John 10:10
Everyday the "Thief of Joy" is at work, intent on stealing my rest, my time, my energy, my life, and my joy. It's never an accident that problems come up when they do, that bad news comes on the weekend, that crises come in the middle of the holiday, that that one person has something discouraging to say first thing in the morning. The "Thief of Joy" is cunning and crafty and knows exactly what what he's doing.
And sometimes when everything is going wrong, we get so consumed by it all that we forget that sneaky "Thief of Joy" who is coming up behind us. We forget that he is more concerned with robbing us of our joy than on that big seemingly unsolvable problem that is thrown in our lap.
In the midst of all the challenges of last year, one important thing I learned is that life and all it's problems are better faced with laughter and joy. And so I'm resolved this week to guard my joy, to pray more and worry less, to not lose sleep over work, to only stress a little and laugh a whole lot. And like in that drama, when the Thief of Joy sneaks up behind me with all his schemes, to remember that I can come against him in the name of Jesus who is my "exceeding joy."
"Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God." - Psalm 43:4-5