Make the soul of Your servant joyful, For to You, Lord, I lift up my soul.
Psalm 86:4 (NASB)
Series Focus: “Back to the Basics”
Choose Joy. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this on a T-shirt or coffee mug. It’s an excellent theory, isn’t it? CHOOSE joy. My mind wants to choose joy. Why wouldn’t I? But my heart doesn’t always cooperate. I wonder, doesn’t God want me to be happy? Scripture tells me He wants good things for me, He has a good plan for me, and He loves me…so why is joy so hard to hold on to? And does being joyful even equal feeling happy?
We confuse the definition of “joy” to be synonymous with the definition of “happiness.” Happiness describes the emotions we feel when good things happen, while joy is a characteristic of our soul. Outside sources control happiness, but joy results from what we allow into our hearts and minds.
Turning on the news immediately deflates my peace of mind. How can one see so much sadness looming over our world and be cheerful? People suffer, fight, and even die searching for what they call happiness. All signs point to “me ” according to culture. This world wants us focused on the “what we want” instead of the gifts God gives. And one of those beautiful attributes is joy. In fact, Galatians 5:22-23 recounts God’s gifts called the fruit of the spirit. God blesses His children with these as we seek Him, follow Him, and abide in His perfect word.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
Do you notice the order of the qualities in this passage? Paul lists love first. God is Love, and He pours out His love upon us to share it with others. What is second in the list? Joy!! If you have ever read the ingredient list on a box of cereal, you know they always list the ingredient with the highest measure first. The rest follow suit. Why do you think joy is so high on the list?
Life is hard. Times can be tough. Circumstances can cause chaos around us. Happiness will not always be what we feel. But the joy that comes from deep within our souls is ours. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He fills you with a joyful spirit—even in hardship. Joy is of the soul, but happiness is of the moment. Joy endures hardship and embraces peace. If we remain aligned with Him, He strengthens us, and our joy will not subside. Paul writes in Romans 15:13:
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NASB)
Happiness will come and go, but joy, when practiced, runs deep and overflows within us. Every time we give thanks to God, we practice joy. Only when we intentionally choose joy, do we experience the true and real meaning of the joy that comes from Jesus.
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22 (ESV)
Sisters, let nothing and no-one steal the joy set before you.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Psalm 86:4; Galatians 5:22-23, 1 John 4:8; Romans 15:13, 12:12; John 16:22; Hebrews 12:1b-2; James 1:2-4