One Sunday, the gentleman handed me my song sheet at the beginning of service. As I perused the list, I couldn't help but laugh. In his haste, the man had typed "Joy Unpeakable" instead of "Joy Unspeakable". I don't know why it struck me so funny, but I immediately began singing "Joy unpeakable and full of glory." I didn't mean to make fun, and the gentleman, understanding my humor, laughed along with me at his mistake. For some reason, I just got a kick out of that phrase.
Unfortunately, it has stuck with me. Anytime someone talks about joy or names that particular hymn, my mind serenades me-- "Joy unpeakable and full of glory." Last week was no different. I was preparing for my Sunday School lesson on the topic of joy. The song immediately popped into my mind, and I decided I'd share the story with the ladies of my class just to spread some cheer. As I continued to study my lesson, however, I realized something I hadn't paid attention to before--joy is unpeakable!
A peak, in its noun form, means the summit, highest point or pinnacle. In its verb form, the word peak means to reach a highest point. So far, that sounds like joy, right? But the problem with a peak is that once you've reached it, there's only one way to go--down. After you've reached the pinnacle of your career, things go downhill. Once you've reached the summit of the mountain, you have to descend. In many ways, while the peak is often the goal, it's also the end of the best part of the journey. Hmm, it's not sounding much like joy anymore, is it?
The fact is that God is joy. He's not simply the author of it or the instigator of it. He is joy itself. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It can only be obtained by allowing God to live within us. Take note, now, I'm speaking of joy, not happiness. The two are similar, but not the same. Happiness depends on our circumstances. Joy does not. Because God is ever present, so is joy. It is always there, always acceptable and always perfect. It has no peak at which it must then descend. Joy, because it is God, is limitless. Not only it is unspeakable, but it truly is unpeakable. It never fails. It never fades. I don't know about you, but I think that's something worth singing about!
For the joy of the Lord is your strength. - Nehemiah 8:10b