Joy – I think we often have a wrong idea about joy. It is so easily confused with happiness; but happiness is dependant on circumstances, while joy is not. We as believers think joy is a gift from God. I could not find any references to a “gift of joy” in the handy online concordance I was using, but I do think there are many places where God says He will turn our mourning into joy: Jeremiah, Esther, and Psalms to name but a few. I have often prayed for joy and peace in my own life.
Joy is also listed in the fruit of the Spirit passage. Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of our relationship with God. These are traits of character that should be more and more evident in the life of the believer. This leads me to a concept of joy that took me by surprise. I have been reading Jeremiah and Lamentations - two depressing books. I have to admit that lately my life has not been particularly joyful, although my difficulties are nothing compared to what Jeremiah was going through; but when I opened my current devotional book, The Valley of Vision, the next passage was titled Joy. These devotionals are prayers, and as I read this particular prayer on joy, I remembered some scripture about joy: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Consider it joy when you are persecuted. Be joyful. Serve the Lord joyfully. Sing joyfully to the Lord. As these verses came to mind I began to see that joy is something more than I thought it was. Joy is not just a gift, it is a command. Joy is not just something that happens to me, it is something I do. That means that I am sinning when I am not joyful. That seems hard to take. How do I work up joy? How does joy mesh with emotion? I have no answer for that. But if joy is a command, and not being joyful is a sin… well, what do you do with sin? Confess and repent. It doesn’t matter what the sin is. As I talked to God about my sin and about joy, an interesting and amazing thing happened. New thoughts began to come to mind - thoughts of the gifts God has given me, thoughts of the promises He has made to me, thoughts of heaven and eternity. As these thoughts overshadowed the depressing thoughts, thanksgiving and joy stepped in. Blessed JOY – the command and the gift. Just do it!
Rebecca A Givens, 10/31/08