Earlier this week, I was reading some comments a friend had posted about joy. She was saying how she planned to be deliberate on having joy this year, and how in times past, her joy had been stolen. That got me to thinking about joy. I was thinking how true that was, in my own life, as well, and I’m sure for many others also.
Joy can be elusive. And fleeting when we do find it. It can be something we may not experience often, and yet we should. If we have the Holy Spirit living in us, then we should have the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is joy. God’s kind of joy is not something we can make ourselves “feel”, true joy is from the Lord. We see in Romans 15:13 Paul is praying for the church in Rome, for this very thing. ” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
If we already have this joy in us, but we aren’t experiencing it, then perhaps it’s something we have to learn to exercise and practice walking in. When the Bible tells us to have something or to do something there is always a reason for it. Joy is like our secret weapon. It is for our benefit. We just need to learn how to use it.
Often, when we think of joy, we think it’s something we have when everything in our life is going well, and we are really, really happy. If that were true, then I would think that joy would come just every now and then. Because most of us are dealing with something a fair amount of the time. Not always big things but just issues. Whether its personal relationships,family, finances, health issues, job issues or loss. And even if we aren’t going through something, usually we have at least a couple people close to us who are dealing with something. Life happens and things happen all the time.
When you Google what’s the difference between joy and happiness, you get a lot of opinions. Some say they are the same, some say they are different. Yes, they can be synonymous for the same thing sometimes, but I think they can be very different also. Happiness, to me, I think, depends more on our circumstances. God’s kind of joy is something that we can have even in the midst of our circumstances.
Maybe you are thinking to yourself, what does she know? If she had my life she would know there is nothing to be joyful about. And I would understand perfectly how you could say that. But one thing I can say. I don’t have all the answers on this one. A lot of people would probably say the same thing. I think many people struggle with joy. Some might even say they don’t even know what the joy of the Lord means.
But how I think and feel about joy and what I know to be true, are two different things. I know how hard it is to have joy when you are going through a hard place. But I also know that it is possible, and if we can learn to walk in that joy, it will be our strength and help us to get through whatever we are dealing with.
Walking in God’s joy is a choice. It’s something we need to practice, and to learn to walk in, believing that its already ours. It’s no different than learning to walk in love. It’s something that we need to commit to, and learn to do more and more each day. We may not be perfect at it at first, but it will get easier with practice.
In the book of Philippians, Paul is writing to the congregation from prison. Anything we read about prisons in that time period, shows them to be awful, terrible places. And yet, he wasn’t complaining about his situation, or saying “why me” but he was urging the people to “rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice”! Phil 4:4. In the book of Habakkuk, we see Habakkuk making the choice to choose joy. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feel like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills”. Habakkuk 3:18-19.
You notice he said I WILL rejoice and I WILL joy in the God of my salvation. It was a choice. The same as in Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Its a choice. Maybe the day ahead will not be good. But we can still choose to rejoice in it.
The joy of the Lord is something that we exercise by faith. We joy in knowing that this is not our home, and everything that happens here is only temporary. We joy in knowing what Jesus did for us, and we joy in our salvation. We joy as we trust God, knowing that He has a plan for our lives, and knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us. And we joy in knowing that we will be with Him one day.
If Jesus could go to the cross for us, with all that entailed, because of the joy that was set before Him; then surely we can believe to have joy in the midst of our trials. James 1:2- says “ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Does this mean that knowing all this, it will always be easy to walk in the joy of the Lord? No. It just means that by faith we do know its possible and we can do it.
I have decided to be like my wise friend. This year, I will be more deliberate about joy. I will be more aware of how the enemy constantly works to steal my joy. I don’t have to allow him to do that! It’s not his joy to steal. It belongs to me.
I commit to learn more about joy. There are at least 192 mentions of the word joy in the Bible. That’s a good place to start! I would like to learn to shout for joy and have “great” joy. And have joy like 1 Peter 1:8 “ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Joy unspeakable. Imagine what that would be like? If we could walk in the joy of the Lord, even in the midst of circumstances, what a witness to the world that would be!