What is joy? Let’s start with our usual definition, according to Webster.
- “A feeling of great happiness.
- “A source or cause of great happiness”
- “Something or someone that gives joy to someone”
- “Success in doing, finding or getting something”
So, do we have to depend on something or someone causing our joy? If so, then it certainly is elusive. Is it a feeling, like happiness, maybe intensified? Look around at random faces. Can you see joy reflected there? Eavesdrop on passing conversations. What tone do you hear?
God has not promised us happiness. He has told us that we will have trouble in the world.
The Greek word chara is the word translated as joy. Some say it would better be translated as rejoice. Joy is a noun, a thing. It implies passivity on the part of the person. What is the hope of ever experiencing joy if it depends on what happens in our life? Rejoice is a verb, an action on the part of the person. But how do we rejoice?
The act of rejoicing is a direct result of grace. The word chara is related to a root word charis, meaning grace. Grace is abiding, it does not come and go. It is always with us because of forgiveness. So then, joy is dependent on one thing only, and it remains whether life is showering us with blessing, or immersing us in sorrow.
Grace is why Nehemiah could proclaim that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh. 8:10
We are also told that joy is the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit is a collection of virtues that are produced by our walk with Him, and our obedience to the Word. Fruit is produced as a natural process of the tree or vine from which it comes forth. The Holy Spirit is our process. He produces that fruit.
So then, is it possible to practice joy? Not really. But it is possible to practice rejoicing. Self-reminders of that work of Grace that infused us with the life-quickening Spirit the instant we responded to that Grace.
How to Rejoice
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil. 4:6
I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30
Enter into His gates with singing and His courts with praise. Psalm 100:4
Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation…
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. Psalm 146:2-7
The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. Prov. 29;:25
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Gal. 5:13
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Col. 3:2
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Tim. 2:3,4
I am only beginning to understand this, and it has taken many sorrows to get here. Yes, it is not because of the many happiness-inducing things in my life, but sorrow. Having a good family, or good friends brings happiness, but relationships can fracture, people leave or die. Sweet little children grow up and become drug addicts. Having a career I loved made me happy, until I was let go. Owning my first home ever at the age of 50 was thrilling, but then a set of unfortunate circumstances caused us to lose it.
Fortunes are lost, beautiful people grow old, the glory of man fades. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires devour entire homes and towns; cars crash, companies fail, crime happens. We are always saying to ourselves “why me, why now, what did I ever do to deserve this?” As if we were taught that life is fair and we will never suffer loss or sorrow. What entitles any of us to only good fortune? Why are we angry at God every time, or at the least, bewildered?
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? Psalm 2:1
If we are good at it, we will look for God in all these circumstances; we will listen to his voice of comfort.
He does not expect us to despair. If you are hurting or suffering, feeling blinded on the path, join me, share your own insight. I will pray for you to open that treasure box that is hidden deep inside of sorrow.