Who Else Can Use Some Joy? 5 Ways to Experience It

Who Else Can Use Some Joy? 5 Ways to Experience It June 26, 2023

What are ways you can experience joy? Since so much of our culture seems to thrive on reporting negative news, we might want to think more about positive things, such as the goodness of life and what it means to have joy.

The main biblical verb for rejoicing is chairȏ (χαίρω) in the Greek. It appears at least 91 times in the Old Testament (the

Septuagint version) and 74 times in the New Testament. The noun form for “joy” (chara/ χαρά) also appears numerous times in Scripture.

Based on these figures, it is clear that God’s people are expected to be a joyful people. You probably have heard that the world will “know we are Christians by our love,” but will they also know it because of our joy? Are you a joyful person?

Experiencing joy (“girl lovely smile” via pixabay.com)

5 Ways to Discover Joy

Those who possess joy often have an eternal purpose in mind. They can experience it regardless of the circumstances. Hence, things that bring us happiness, such as wealth, vacation, entertainment, or having fun with friends, may not be quite the same thing. Still, joy and happiness can overlap.

As Shane Wood puts it, “Joy is a shift in gaze, a move from beholding what is right in front of a person (positive or negative) to beholding what is beyond (to God himself)… Joy is the divine perspective that precedes all contexts, anchoring Christians to Christ so that , come what may, the divine knowledge remains unmoved” (S. J. Wood, “Joy, Rejoicing,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, 570).*

What are ways in which we could find and have this joy in our lives? Here are at least five ways:

  1. Rejoice in Everyday Activities

In Ecclesiastes the Qoheleth (preacher) says to rejoice over your work, your spouse, eating, drinking, and life itself (Eccl 3:22; 5:18-19; 9:9–10; 11:8). These are things we probably take for granted. The lesson to be learned here is to find joy in simplicity and in the mundane. Are we thankful for our eyes, ears, sense of taste, food, health, companionship, the wonder of creation, and the smile on a little child’s face? All these and more are gifts to marvel at and cherish.

We can also experience joy by seeing a friend or loved again, especially after adverse circumstances or if not seeing them for a long time (1 Thess 2:17–20; 2 Cor 7:6–7; Phil 2:28; cf. John 20:20).

  1. Help Out Others

When Jesus sends out the 72 to proclaim the gospel of God’s kingdom, his disciples return filled with joy (Luke 10:1, 17).  Helping out other people is one way in which I have frequently experienced joy. There is often a sense of peace, contentment, and rejoicing that comes by giving to a person in need, encouraging and praying for them, feeding the homeless, and sharing the gospel about Jesus with others. It fills me with joy and the Spirit. Of course, when you exercise the talents and spiritual gifts God has given you, this frequently brings joy.

  1. Be Aware of Joy both through and after Experiencing Hardships

Often in Jewish tradition, joy is expressed when the people are restored after affliction or return from exile, experiencing the favor of God anew (e.g., Ps 90:14–15; Isaiah 9:1–7; 12:3–6; 49:13; Jeremiah 31:7–12; 51:48). Joy, then, can be experienced after a time of trial and suffering.

Beyond this, we can experience joy even in the midst of our trials and afflictions. Paul, who is locked up in prison, could still maintain and promote joy (Philippians 4:1, 4). He could also speak of his missionary work, travels, and persecution in terms of grieving yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6:10; Phil 2:17–18; Col 1:24). This is because joy is not simply an emotion but an attitude that he encourages all believers to have (1 Thess 5:16). He charges believers to rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, and constant in prayer (Rom 12:12).

Suffering becomes a way of imitating Christ, who suffered for us. And it confirms us not only of our identity as believers but of the future reward that awaits us (1 Pet 4:13–14; Matt 5:12; Luke 10:20; Acts 5:41; see Klaus Berger, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 3:451–52).

This is rejoicing, not only as the outcome or antithesis of hardship, but also through it with the recognition of eternal perspective in view, that this life is not all there is. Extreme joy and ultimate peace and salvation will inevitably come. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that the children of God will experience (Romans 8:18).

The experience of great joy comes with personal redemption and the divine perception that “situates the present and all it contains (good or ill) in the purview of eternity” (Wood, DPL, 569).

  1. Seek Forgiveness

Have you ever had a dream in which you did something wrong and anticipated that something terrible would happen to you, but then you woke up? Magnify that feeling of relief ten times and with the full recognition that what you have done, all that you have done that hurt others, yourself, and God, has been washed away forever. That is joy, and it often comes with tears of gratitude.

If you have never experienced this, such joy comes with genuine, heartful repentance. It involves making yourself vulnerable in prayer to God, confessing your sins and wrongdoings, feeling genuine remorse, and asking forgiveness from God in the name of Jesus. It also may involve asking forgiveness from the ones you have hurt.

Notice that rejoicing accompanies repentance in Jesus’s parables, inclusive of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:5–10, 23–24, 32).

The joy you experience may even be accompanied by being filled with the Holy Spirit…

  1. Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

This may take place after genuine repentance and that sense of being forgiven (#4). For all those who put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, Paul says that the Holy Spirit adopts you into the family of God and the Spirit now lives in you (Romans 8:9–16; 10:9–13).

Now of course, this does not mean that you should return to the same habits, lifestyle, temptations, and toxic relationships that first got you into the mess you were in. Being a child of God means turning over a new leaf, a new beginning. You will almost surely need help keeping away from “the mess.”

Share your new decision with a trusted friend who loves the Lord. Be faithful to attend a solid church fellowship, get involved in one of its small groups, or join a specialized group of people who have overcome the problems you need to avoid. If you don’t attend a church, search online for a good one near you. Most importantly, build your own relationship with Lord through daily prayer, worship, and reading and studying the Bible.

After all, not only is love a major “fruit of the Spirit” but also joy (Galatians 5:22). For more tips on being filled with the Spirit, see my earlier blogs, “How to Walk in the Spirit” and “How to Experience Spiritual Renewal”.


* Several points in this post have been influenced by Wood.


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