I have JOY, but I am not happy. Does that sound like a contradiction? It all depends on our understanding of JOY and HAPPINESS. The two words are often used as synonyms when the Bible teaches us that they are different.
According to our secular definition (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary), joy and happiness is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune, or the prospect of possessing what one desires, the expression or exhibition of such emotion. As a verb, it means to experience great pleasure or delight.
What Does the Bible Teach Us about Joy?
The Lord is the source of our JOY! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Joy is one of the results of the Holy Spirit living in us. God alone can produce true joy through His Spirit living in those who have believed and received Him as Savior and Lord. Only God can give us the ability to respond to life’s difficult circumstances with contentment and satisfaction. Joy is a choice; we choose how we will respond to life’s difficulties and challenges, with joy or without joy.
James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Notice the word “count.” Some versions of the Bible translate “consider.” It’s a word that means to systematically scrutinize or to examine, as in taking an exam (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown). We who are believers in Jesus as Lord can choose to see the potential advantages of a situation to gain a better understanding of what God may want to accomplish.
A simple illustration of this truth would be the time my wife and I were struggling with having enough to pay our bills. My wife had injured herself and could not work for several months. No work, no pay. We were dependent on her income to make ends meet. We decided to trust the Lord. We prayed for the Lord’s grace, peace, and joy (literally) as we navigated this season. We were not anxious. We had trusted the Lord before, and we would trust in the Lord again. We received “the proverbial check in the mail during the second week of her recovery.” We received a letter with a check from the IRS that “they” (not us) had made a mistake over a year ago and were refunding our money. The amount was what we needed to cover the time my wife was unable to work. The Lord’s timing is perfect (and IRS’s). We had no idea that this money was coming.
James 1:2-3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Is it possible to have joy during life’s most difficult times? The Bible tells us YES! Note the word “ALL” in James 1:2. The Bible uses this word to describe the kind of joy that can only come from God Himself. It is a word that means completely or totally. This is not just “some” joy. We can experience “all joy,” or joy totally or completely.
1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” This is the joy God’s people can experience even when faced with multiple problems or difficult times. Even if we “have been grieved by various trials.” God provides abundant and complete joy.
On Sunday, we will learn about the amazing promises of joy. We are celebrating the Season of Christmas, remembering the events of Jesus’ birth. Do you remember what the angel of the Lord said to Mary, the Mother of Jesus?
Luke 1:26-29, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
Rejoice, highly favored one. Your life is about to “miraculously change.” You will become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and give life to the Savior of the universe. You will face ridicule, embarrassment, and disbelief when you tell your husband-to-be and your family that you are pregnant, not by Joseph or any other human male, but by the Grace and Power of the Holy Spirit. But REJOICE! Don’t be anxious! Be BLESSED! Don’t be TROUBLED! Be JOYFUL!
What did Mary say to the Angel? Luke 1:38, “Mary said, Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.”
Biblical Joy is not based solely on events; joy is the emotion of hope. If we find someone who has no joy in their life, it’s usually because they have no hope. But if we have hope, we can have joy and peace!
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace. Psalm 27:14 Wait with hope for the Lord, be strong. And let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the Lord.”
What does it mean to wait with hope? There is a relationship between hope and joy. To wait with hope is to wait with joyful, confident expectations. Joy is a perspective, a lens through which we CHOOSE to see life. It’s a lens/perceptive we look at even in the difficult moments of life. When we read the Christmas story in the scriptures, we see joy. The angels had joy. The shepherds had joy; the wise men had joy. The baby, John the Baptist, leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Mary had joy. And it turns out that the only people in the story of the first Christmas who did not have joy were the religious hypocrites.
BELIEVE IN the Lord, Who Keeps ALL His Promises for YOU. Luke 1:54 says, “He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. He made this promise to our ancestors, Abraham, and his children forever.”
Isaiah 28:16, “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” John 14:1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Psalms 136:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”
Are we willing to have faith? Believing in God according to HIS word. If we would consider what would happen? We who believe in Christmas believe what the Lord is doing IN us and THROUGH us and FOR us.
It’s Friday, But Sunday Is Coming With Joy!