Joy is an emotion quickly equated with happiness. We all desire this unexplainable ability to have a cheerful peaceful outlook in all circumstances that hit us. The definition of “joy” according to Oxford Languages is, “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” (read further here) Joy is also said to be the “state of satisfaction”. I believe to fully understand more about this emotion, we need to crack open the spine of a Bible and see what it has to offer us.
Is joy this otherworldly emotion? Is it simply another word for happiness? How do we obtain it and live in a joyful state?
We Press Toward Joy
If we are seeking out a plant to put into the ground to spice up our yard display, we would head to a home improvement store. We get in the car and drive there, and then walk out into the garden section to purchase our shrubbery. Next, we load it up and go home. Struggling, we will lower the bush to the ground and lug it to where we intend to plant it. What’s next? Water and fertilizer.
How are we expected to have joy when we put no effort into it? The shrub in our yard takes a lot of effort and even once it’s planted we have to keep watering it and hope it grows.
Psalm 16:8-9 says, “I have set the Lord always before me . . . Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices . . .”
Set the Lord before us. Set is and action, a verb. We have to focus on Christ and the Lord to even be able to receive joy and fullness in Him. We have to constantly reach out to it, to Him. This often comes in the form of worship and praise because when you praise Him, you are setting God before you and relieving yourself of the world.
Romans 14:17 speaks of how the kingdom of God is made up of righteousness, peace and joy. His kingdom offers us true joy. It is a choice we make and a place we get to experience.
God Has Joy
Not only do we experience joy, but our heavenly Father does, too. Zephaniah says these words, “. . . He will rejoice over you with gladness.”
God takes delight in His children and He chooses to give us this emotion to feel and experience in life. This gift is straight from heaven. And we get to have it and live it. It’s comforting to know that God has joy over us and cares thanksgiving much about us to rejoice like a proud Father.
During Obedience . . . and Salvation
In John chapter fifteen, we see that Jesus tells us when we keep His commands, we have joy. To the full. Obedience requires that action step. And when we chose to live for Christ and His ways, we get this joy. The joy in obedience.
Now, thinking about following His commands, we think about what we are living for and striving for. In essence, our joy is given because of our salvation and the fact we have been granted eternal life by God. 1 Peter 1:8 puts it into perspective for us, “. . . you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Joy stems from our salvation and hope in Christ. It can never be taken away from us. We can always be joyful and choose joy in all things, because we have a hope that is not determined by our circumstances.
Joy Brings Life
We know there is life and death in the tongue, but it can also be in letting your emotions rule. Because joy is not dependent on circumstances, we can chose to have it unleashed in our lives all the time. One who has joy, has the ability to conquer life even when it is dark. You get to move from “Negative Nancy” to”Positive Polly”.
Proverbs 10:28 says, “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” Joy and hope are connected. We cannot experience or fully have one without the other!