By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
Very often in life, we find ourselves in a place where we no longer desire the things of the world, such as riches, notoriety, or power; instead, we simply desire joy. Joy differs from happiness in that happiness can be a fleeting flash of emotion, whereas joy is a deeply rooted constant that can be obtained. Where can we find truths about joy that will grow our faith in the process?
1. Joy Does Not Depend on Circumstances
The joy you have in your heart and spirit is not dependent upon your circumstances. Life can be full of success, wins, exciting adventures, and surges of sunlit hope and be full of joy. Life can also be full of struggle, tears, and storms, but joy can still exist amidst all that is occurring. The true reality is not what we can see, touch, and feel. Instead, it is the rooted assurance that the joy of the Lord is present no matter the circumstances. We can enter into a steadfast position of joy no matter the current status of our life.
2. Joy Is the Quiet Assurance that God Is Who He Says He Is
We can find our rooted peace and joy in knowing that God is exactly who He says He is, and that is never changing. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Rick Warren once concluded and shared that “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” When we stop assigning joy to the category of happiness, we can then experience the peace that flows from knowing, no matter how difficult the storm is around us, that God is ever-present and can be trusted as faithful. He is who He says He is, and that is unending.
3. Joy from God Is Strength
Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” and something we can hold firm to when we feel our own inner strength dwindling. We are flawed humans made of flesh and bone with a spirit and soul within, and as such we need a Savior. Through Christ, we can find true salvation and, in Him, the strength to endure whatever comes our way. In saying that the joy of the Lord is our strength, we are recalling that it is not something within of our own cultivating or doing, but rather through the Spirit of God that we can find that strength and joy in the process.
4. Count it All as Joy
Joy is also a choice we can make. James 1:2-4 reminds us that we can count it all as joy, even the trials, for they serve a greater purpose in our lives, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Trials will come no matter how rich, successful, or powerful you may be; there is no avoiding them. When trials do come, instead of having a victim mentality and succumbing to the depths of wallowing sadness within, we can count them as joy because it is through such trials that our perseverance grows. In that, we mature, learn, and become refined by the fire. We can count it all as joy, the mountain tops, and the valleys, for all serve a purpose in the span of the story of life.
5. Joy Comes in the Morning
King David in the Bible knew much of life, in both victory and sadness. Through the Psalms, we can relate to his depth of feeling and emotion, but we can also become inspired by the life he led and how he saw God move on his behalf. Psalm 30:5 reminds us that “weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
Most all of us can relate to nights where we have cried ourselves to sleep, where we have ached within so deeply it is shocking that our bodies still have the capacity for the function of breath, but as David reminds us, there is a joy that can come in the morning. That dawn may not be a literal span of hours after, but there is a hope that morning will come and, with it, a newfound joy peeking through to dry our tears and to surround us with a warm embrace of hope to come.
6. Reaping Joy
Psalms also remind us that the seeds often planted and watered by tears will be harvested with joy. Psalm 126:4 offers, “Restore our captives O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping, bearing a trail of seed, will surely return with shouts of joy, carrying sheaves of grain.”
When we allow joy to be something we carry within, it does not lie dormant, and we can find joy even in the tears that fall to the ground. This joy is in knowing that the harvest will one day come, be it on this side of Heaven or the life to come, and that our tears are not wasted. Instead, our tears are part of what is being sown into the ground to cultivate and enrich the seed that when the harvest does come, it is that of double joy. Joy in the harvest, and joy in knowing there was purpose in the process.
7. Fruit of the Spirit
There are several fruits of the Spirit, but one of the most important is joy. Galatians 5:22-23 explains, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
These fruits are the result of the work of God within and throughout our lives and things we ought to readily ask God to help us to cultivate. The more we practice these beautiful qualities, the more we experience the fullness of life in being His vessels here on earth.
8. The Joy of Heaven
The truth of joy is that it is felt and experienced in Heaven when things on earth occur. Luke 15:10 shares, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” When someone comes to repentance and salvation, there is a great multitude of joy in Heaven, and rightfully so. Here on earth, we can participate in that joy by recognizing how wonderful it is when someone comes to Christ, and we can pray with a hopeful heart for more joy in others coming to Christ in the future.
9. We Can Ask God for Joy
As children of God, we have the ability and opportunity to ask God for joy. We serve a gracious and kind Father Who loves to give His children good gifts. Joy can be something we struggle to receive, but by allowing God to work fully within us and in our surrender, we can then experience what it means to be in full joy and Light. Let us hold firm to this hope and readily ask God for more joy and more of His Spirit.