What does joy look like? How does it feel? Or can it even be defined as an emotion? Have you ever been in an unhappy circumstance, yet experienced joy?
The world around us reverberates anything but joy. Come to think of it, the world is often an obstacle to this particular fruit of the Spirit.
Joy is not a mask we can put on when it serves us. It is a fruit of the Spirit precisely because it must come from Him.
“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.” (Romans 15:13).
If you are not experiencing joy, has it ever occurred to you to ask God for it? And are you willing to cast off whatever hinders it? We, in today’s culture, love victimhood. If we are victims, we have a right to put on a gloomy countenance. Yet Peter tells us to expect trials of all kinds. Still, we are to rejoice (1 Peter 1:6). We cannot sit around and wait for our circumstances to improve in order to know joy.
Joy is not so much an emotion as it is a knowing. Remember when Jesus sent out the seventy-two, how they came back jumping for joy because even the demons submitted to them? Jesus gave them this reality check — “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
We have no control over the frightful or even dire circumstances that come into our lives, but we must never lose sight of the fact that God is working for our good. Therefore joy must be rooted in the knowledge that our names are forever written in heaven, and His good will be the outcome (Luke 10:17-20).
Sin is also an obstacle to joy. When David confessed his sin of adultery, he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Although discipline was never meant to be pleasant, we can rejoice in the intended outcome — restoration to the living God.
While God is the source of our joy, scripture is the means. We are both dependent and responsible. We are responsible for storing God’s word in our heart, so that He can bring them to life when we are most in need. He will then enable us to experience the joy of our salvation, no matter the circumstances. Joy is also the result of giving thanks in all circumstances. This, too, is our responsibility. The more we practice putting on a joyful countenance, the easier it will be to exhibit it. Paul reminds us several times in his letter to the Philippians to rejoice always, for it is a safeguard, he says. It keeps us from becoming like the world.
Finally, the ultimate purpose of joy is to glorify God. Christ came that we might have life to the full — that includes a joyful spirit. Not only is God glorified when we exhibit a joyful attitude, we are demonstrating to an unbelieving world the power of God’s love and His faithful provision for all our needs.
Therefore, let us celebrate joy daily, for God has given us the inexpressible gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, that we might experience all the fruits of His Spirit.