What brings you joy? Are you joyful when the day plays out exactly how you wanted it to? Do you feel that rush of happiness and peace deep inside you when you get something you want, whether it be material or otherwise? Our culture would have us believe our joy is dependent on our circumstances. It tells us joy is impossible when our situation is less than ideal. For example, if a job has been lost, a friendship strained, or a spouse has broken a heart with unfaithfulness we do not consider joy a natural response.
Or if the doctor has delivered news we were not expecting and we are anxious and afraid then joy is not even on the radar of what we are feeling at that time. But that is our culture talking. Culture is defined as behaviors or beliefs that are characteristic of a certain social group or people. Is that our goal? Do we want to behave and believe alike with the world? How does that make us different? How do others see something different in us if we are alike? More importantly, we should be asking ourselves is how does God define joy.
Deuteronomy 27:7 tells us joy is to accompany sacrifice before God. Psalm 19:8 says the commandments of the Lord bring joy. Psalm 21:6 and Acts 2:28 tell us joy comes from being in the presence of God. In Psalm 27:6 David announces he will hold his head high, offer praises, shouts of joy, and singing to the Lord while offering sacrifices in the temple in the presence of his enemies. Psalm 28:7 says joy comes from trusting in the Lord to shield us from danger and help us in times of need. In Psalm 32:2 and Romans 4:7-8 we learn that joy comes from living a life forgiven of sin in complete honesty with God. Luke 24:52 tells the story of how people were filled with joy as a result of having just worshiped. 2 Corinthians 1:24 says standing firm in faith brings joy. 2 Corinthians 6:10 says even though our hearts ache we always have joy, even though we may be poor we have spiritual riches, we may have nothing, but we have everything.
These are just a few of the many, many references to God’s definition of joy to be found in His word. Most importantly, Galatians 5:22 tells us that having a life controlled by the Holy Spirit produces in us spiritual fruit, or character, of which joy is second only to love. God defines joy as a choice. A state of mind and heart to be chosen no matter the circumstances. Joy is experienced through understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to Him. Joy comes from knowing we are forgiven and knowing our God is sovereign. Joy is not a result of pleasant circumstances. Joy is a choice made from obedience to God. No matter the situation, no matter how catastrophic the day may be, I choose to feel joy because my savior freely offers it to me.