Although joy is spoken of often in the Scriptures, many Christians do not experience it often in their lives. While joy is said to be a fruit of the Spirit, this fruit seems to be lacking or falling from the tree. Joy is something that is frequently confused with happiness. If someone receives a large check in the mail, they typically get emotionally happy and can begin to think they are experiencing joy. If someone gets a promotion, they often experience heightened emotions that can be confused with joy.
Joy is much deeper than someone getting what they already want and experiencing euphoric feelings.
Joy is first and foremost rooted in God:
• Rejoicing is to be done all day in the name of God (Ps. 89:16)
• Rejoicing is to be done in Christ as our Savior (Luke 1:47)
• Joy is be had in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17)
At the outset, the Christian’s joy is to be such that his eyes are fixed on God. Joy is to be had in the life and heart of the believer because of this vital connection that he shares with God.
While worldly examples abound for reasons to experience happiness, contentment, and joy, the Bible speaks of joy in a different way. Worldly pleasures and the happiness they bring will come and go. Therefore, if you look to these things for some sort of ongoing benefit to you, you will unfortunately be disappointed.
Rather, God seeks to focus the attention of the Christian on matters of stability rather than on situations that ebb and flow. The Scriptures speak of the stability and consistency of joy when they say:
• The believer is to rejoice because his name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20)
• The believer is to have great joy in the salvation that the Lord brings (Ps. 21:1)
• The believer is to rejoice and have joy in the Lord for bringing him out of bondage (Ps. 105:43)
• The believer is to have joy as he sees the goodness of God in his life (2 Chr. 7:10)
• The Christian is to have joy as he sees the blessings of God in his life (Joel 2:23-24)
• As God supplies grace to the believer, he is to have joy (Is. 12:3)
• Christians should have joy because God is their helper and their protector (Ps. 63:7)
• Christians are to be joyful people because Christ has given them the victory (John 16:33)
• Joy is to abound in the life of the Christian for the hope of glory (Rom. 5:2)
• As the Gospel continues to advance and people continue to come to Christ, Christians are to rejoice (Acts 15:3)
Scripture is replete with reasons for the believer to rejoice. One of the major problems that people face today is that their source of joy is a dried-up cistern. Christians need to get their hearts realigned with God’s Word to experience true joy. If people find that their source of joy is their bank account, their measure of success, their spouse, their friends, their animals, everything going their way, being able to do what they want, living where they want, having a nice house, having a nice car, having a nice lawn, good weather, nice neighbors, no neighbors, a lot of neighbors, going to school, not going to school, etc., they will find themselves seeking joy in the world and will find that the well will soon run dry.
God’s well is an abundant well. Scripture says, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Is. 12:3). Draw from the well of God and not the dried cisterns of this world. Seeking for joy in the world can come on subtly but can take a deep root and cause such a fog over the eyes that it is hard to find one’s way out.
The Scriptural picture is amazing as to how we should have this joy in the Lord. It is much different than the fleeting joy that is so often experienced. Rather, the Scripture says:
• In each and every situation and circumstance that someone undertakes to do, he is to rejoice in the Lord (Deut. 12:18)
• The rejoicing of the believer is to be of a great magnitude, and the believer is commanded to rejoice greatly (Zech. 9:9)
• Joy is to abound in the life of the Christian (2 Cor. 8:2)
• Believers are to be exceedingly glad (Ps. 21:6)
• When believers are joyful, it is to show in their conduct and demeanor. There is said to be an animated element to joy in the Scriptures (Ps. 32:11)
• There is to be consistency in the joy that the believer is to have (2 Cor. 6:10)
• Even in the midst of great persecution and during times of sorrow, Christians can have joy (Matt. 5:11-12 and 2 Cor. 6:10)
• While experiencing severe trials, the believer is to have joy (James 1:2)
This biblical picture of joy flies in the face of the world. During times of great distress and trials, believers can have an ongoing experience of a joy in Lord that is exceedingly great and constantly abounds.
But the question then arises: How can the believer have this joy? It can be seen in the Scriptures that this joy is to be rooted in the heavens with God Himself and is a firmly fixed joy. It is also seen that this joy can be had in each and every circumstance and can be great. But what must the Christian do? Surely there is something. Scripture says joy comes through the following avenues:
• Joy comes through the grace and favor of God and can be had in His presence (Rom. 15:13)
• Scripture says that joy comes as someone believes God. When you take God at His word, the Bible says that He will fill you with joy (Rom. 15:13)
• As the believer stays near to Jesus and abides in Him, joy will naturally come (John 15:10-11)
• The believer will experience joy as he spends time in God’s Word (John 17:13)
• When God answers your prayers, it is something that will bring about joy (John 16:24)
• Joy is to be found in fellowship with other believers (2 Tim. 1:4)
• Joy will increase and grow steadily in the lives of those who seek to regularly humble themselves before God and man (Is. 29:19)
Joy can be experienced in your life. It does not need to be such a distant concept that is out of your reach. For starters, if you lack joy, try to figure out what you have been making the source of your joy. This is often a great place to start. If you have made anything in this world your source of joy, the Bible would declare this to be idolatry. This is also something that will lead to a joyless state of being.
Confess your sin to God and meditate on what God says about joy. Make sure you remember first and foremost that joy is said to be rooted in God not the things of this world. Turn your gaze upward and look at your Savior. Then remember that God has highlighted some unchanging and firmly fixed treasure troves of joy for you to be thinking on. God has saved you and determined to bring you home, God’s grace is abundant in your life and never ending, God is your helper and your protector, and so much more.
Make sure you do not forget that joy is something you can have no matter what your circumstances are. You do not have to wait for the sun to shine or a new day to start. Joy is for today. Joy is for this very moment.
Finally, cling to the Lord Jesus Christ and humble yourself before God and man. In this, the joy of the Lord will flow like mighty rushing waters.
Father, I thank You for the ways that You have revealed Yourself to me. There are times in my life when I do not experience joy like the Scriptures tell me that I can experience. Lord, I pray that You would help me to me have joy in You. Please bless me with Your presence and joy in Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.