Find Your Joy
By: Gene Markland, 1.cbn.com
I remember the song from Children’s Church, ”The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” and the verse of laughter when they sing, “Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha,” and so on. What a blessing, hearing the pure unadulterated joy and laughter coming from those precious children as they rejoice in the Lord. Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)
But do we, as adults, share the joy? How long has it been since we’ve recognized His joy in our own lives, and how does that joy manifest itself?
I remember the story in the Bible when King David was returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The joy King David felt as he ushered in the presence of the Lord was almost more than he could contain.
“And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.” 2 Samuel 6:14-15 (NLT)
It goes on to say that King David leaped and danced before the Lord. In those days, the presence of the Lord, the God of the universe, rested upon that one spot, the Ark of the Covenant. Today, that same presence of the Lord rests within us. Oh, the joy that comes when we recognize this fact.
I’ve personally seen this joy manifested when a person humbly asks Jesus to forgive their sins and come into their heart. I have seen people shout for joy upon receiving their salvation and praise God upon coming out of the water after baptism.
“Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me” Psalm 35:9 (NLT)
I remember as a boy of 17, receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the joy that He brought into my life. I spoke in tongues and laughed for the rest of the night!
Some churches have exuberant praise and worship services where people sing, clap, dance, laugh, and release themselves to rejoice in their Lord’s presence, regardless of what onlookers might think. The Lord loves to see their joy and love for Him displayed in such a manner. But He also enjoys the person whose joy is so deep and personal, that it’s expressed by sitting quietly as they bask in their joy, which resides deep within.
Sometimes the cares of life will weigh us down and it would appear that joy is nowhere to be found. And yes, there is a time for grief and sorrow. Even the Lord Jesus experienced it as He wept over Jerusalem. But when the day is done, the house is quiet, and you relax in the comfort of your dimly lit room, turn your thoughts away from the cares of the day and toward your Lord who lives within you.
Realize that the very presence of God, before whom King David danced, is with you and has shared this day with you. Rejoice, for you possess the Lord, and He possesses you. The communication and fellowship that you have with the Lord is your secret treasure. No one can understand or share in the intimacy that is yours and His alone. The sacredness of this treasure, the presence of God in and with you, is your source of joy and strength. This is not joy as the world knows it, but it’s the kind of joy that comes only from God through the Holy Spirit, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
Don’t let anyone steal your joy. Jesus said,
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11 (NLT)
It is His will that you live and breathe in the overflow of joy that comes from Him. Acknowledge and encourage His presence to be with you in word and in Spirit so that joy, His joy in you, becomes a lifestyle. The Apostle Paul wrote,
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
Allow the fruit of joy to grow and manifest itself in your life. Your joy in the Lord is your great source of strength, and no bad report, circumstance, or person can take it away from you!
“So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” Psalm 32:11 (NLT)
Where Can I Find JOY?
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 (NLT)
My daughter’s journey with scoliosis was a heart-breaking time for me as a mother. There were days I couldn’t see past Lauren’s extreme physical pain and my wondering heart questioned, why hasn’t God healed her yet?
Through those years, I struggled. I felt empty … void of hope … void of joy. I knew what God’s Word said about joy: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2 NLT). But in the midst of Lauren’s circumstances, her broken heart and wounded body, it was hard to follow that command.
How could I obey this scripture and find joy when someone I loved was in such pain? God graciously answered the cry of my heart by revealing to me these three words … Jesus Only You.
I noticed the first letter of each of those words spelled J O Y. And it clicked with me. Jesus is our joy!
When God says in James 1:2 to consider trials as opportunities for joy, He’s not talking about the joy found in earthly things. Circumstances turning out how we desire, possessions and positions, and even good health only offer happiness. They are temporary. What God longs for us to have is deep, lasting joy found in Jesus.
The King James Version says we are to “count it all joy” when we walk through trials. This word “count” means “evaluate.”
When trials come, we must evaluate them in light of God’s truths and promises. It’s not the trial itself we consider a joy. Rather, it’s the results that will come from the trial that we consider pure joy.
This involves trusting that God is actively working for our good even in the midst of painful circumstances. And as we trust Him, we will find an inner gladness rooted not in our circumstances, but in the reality of the living God who transcends our circumstances.
After years of praying, asking God to heal my daughter, He did. It still hurts to remember the excruciating pain Lauren suffered. But God was and is faithful. God didn’t heal my girl in the miraculous way I was expecting. Instead, she endured a seven-hour surgery to place two rods in her spine. She missed nearly six weeks of school and labored through months of relearning how to sit and walk and move. She had to quit competitive cheerleading. But in and through that time, God did a new thing.
Looking back, I can see how He held us up, deepened Lauren’s faith, and drew our family closer to each other. In real and personal ways, God showed us His tender, loving care. And He taught me the meaning of true J O Y.
Jesus alone is the source of our joy.
When discouragement comes and you feel you cannot take one more step, remember these three words, Jesus Only You!
Jesus came so that I . . . so that you . . . can experience His joy fully and completely in us through any and all circumstances.
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. — John 15:11
Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh-books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger — two quite extreme viewpoints of life.
The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.
KEY QUESTION: What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
The first order of business is to identify the difference between joy and happiness. For many folks today, being happy is fully dependent on whether life is “all good.” If someone asks, “Rate your life right now on a scale of 1 to 10,” often the number given is based on the number of problems present. Happiness slides up and down the scale, based on the perception of negative issues going on at the time. Problems rise; happiness goes south. Troubles begin to go away; the happy scale starts to climb. Joy, however, is not dependent on circumstances, and, in fact, ironically, can become strongest when trouble comes. The psalmist reminds us of the reality of joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence:
You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. — Psalm 16:11
KEY IDEA: Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.
Joy has more to do with remaining in the presence of Jesus than with avoiding problems and struggles in our lives. Harkening back to John 15, we know that joy is always available to us when we remain in Christ, through whatever life brings. Let these statements guide you to see how true joy differs from mere happiness.
- Happiness is a state of mind, while joy is a mind-set.
- Happiness comes and goes, while joy can be constant.
- Happiness is dependent, while joy is independent.
- Happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.
The apostle Paul had learned the secret to the joy found in Jesus:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:11-13
James drives home the definition of joy in the kingdom of God as having nothing to do with eliminating negative outward circumstances, but rather with embracing them as opportunities to strengthen faith and gain resolve:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4
Note the end result of choosing eternal joy — being mature and complete in Christ. Joy becomes the fuel for the believer on this road to maturity. Only Jesus can make our lives flourish in the midst of trouble. In him, joy is strengthened when life is challenging.