“The response of joy, gladness, or happiness is not only a deep inward feeling, but is expressed in celebration when God’s people gather together.”
C. E. Arnold, Joy
Joy takes on two different aspects in the Bible as God’s redemption story was unfolding. In the OT, the people of God found joy when they were delivered by God or when they anticipated the salvation of the coming Messiah. In the NT, the arrival of the Messiah, who delivers his people and brings salvation became the basis for rejoicing. And for Christ followers, their joy is found in becoming more like Jesus and looking forward His return. But throughout Scripture, joy comes from what God is doing not our immediate circumstances or trials.
God is the source of our joy
God fills us with joy and peace when our hope is in Him. Our hope comes from the Holy Spirit who is always with us reminding us of God’s faithfulness and His presence with us. We are never alone. We cannot will ourselves to experience joy. Thinking “happy thoughts” or sending someone “good vibes” does not bring joy. Joy comes from God alone.
Just was we saw last week with peace, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. When we let our flesh and sinful passions and selfish desires die, we experience life in Jesus Christ.
We experience more joy when we spend time with God. We have to keep in mind that joy only comes from God, but when we spend more time with him, we allow him to fill us with it.
As we choose to obey God’s Word we will live and walk in the love and righteous acceptance of God. Jesus said His joy in glorifying the Father would be in us and our joy would be complete. Again our focus is on glorifying God and finding everything we need in Him.
Count or consider your trials as joy instead of pain and heartache. When trials and tests of faith come, rejoice because God is at work in your life to produce steadfastness or sure faith. And when that is complete you will be more and more like Jesus Christ – perfect and lacking nothing. This is the ultimate goal for us as followers of Jesus. To be His disciple means to model your life after Him. To become Christlike. This is a conscious choice – counting our trials as joy for what God will accomplish through them instead of complaining and worrying about what is happening.
Joy can’t be taken
Joy is given to us by God himself, no one has the ability to rob us of our joy. No matter what circumstances we encounter, no one can take this away.
Rejoice in the hope you have in Jesus Christ — a hope that extends beyond circumstances.
Each one of us is probably facing a trial of some kind or another right now. Maybe it’s still dealing with the effects of COVID. Maybe a job loss or reduced hours. Upcoming surgery or long-term illness for you or a family member. Paying the Christmas bills. Relationship issues. You may be tempted to despair, thinking there is no hope in your circumstances. But in Jesus Christ, we have a great treasure and joy that does not fail under pressure or any trial. Going against your feelings or against your friend’s advice, you can still praise God for your trial because of what God is doing in your life and others. Even with deaths and restrictions, good things have come out of COVID – like more family time and causing our church and others to focus on what is most important. God is challenging our comfort and traditions to see what we value most. God is working for your good.
Or maybe you need to take this time to reformulate your goals in life.
If you were honest with yourself – before the past several months, what would you say was your main goal in life? Comfort, ease, or maybe a little appreciation from others? Security? Early retirement? How about personal holiness for the sake of God’s glory? This moment provides us an opportunity to reflect on what we really value. Because the reason God gives us for choosing joy in trial is not the promise of things getting better again. Instead, He promises us the ability to endure more trials and the resultant sanctification – becoming more like Jesus. Does this thought bring you joy? Are you willing to squeeze out every bit of sanctification God promises you in this trial? Maybe it’s time to “let steadfastness have its full effect” as you endure trials instead trying to escape them.