Often times we think of joy as a fleeting emotion that we experience as a result of some positive occurrence in our lives (i.e. new job, getting engaged, watching sports). However, the Bible describes joy as a state of being that doesn’t necessarily have to come and go like a fleeting feeling, and is not dependent on our current circumstances.
The Bible teaches us that true joy does not ultimately come from earthly things. The author of the book of Ecclesiastes states that all earthly pleasures are temporal, ultimately meaningless, and do not bring everlasting joy (Ec 2:10-11). The apostle Paul teaches us that true joy comes from the faith-filled and hopeful relationship we have with God (Rom 5:2, 15:13; cf. Phil. 3:8). As we relate to our God through our own prayers and his loving responses, our joy becomes complete (John 16:24). This yearning to commune with Him is the deepest cry of our hearts and when it is fulfilled, we can do nothing other than rejoice.
Since our joy comes from our relationship with God, it is not dependent on circumstances. Therefore, with the proper perspective, we can be joyful in any circumstance. In fact, in the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul urges us to rejoice at all times, and he wrote this book in prison (Phil 4:4)! Likewise, James calls us to rejoice even when we face trials (James 1:2).
- Keep the proper perspective, part 1. Everyday this week say a short prayer thanking the Lord for giving you the gift of salvation, and for rescuing you from eternal pain and suffering by sacrificing His son Jesus Christ. Often times we get so caught up in the details of the day that we lose our perspective on things. One day we will be in heaven, in perfect fellowship with God and our brothers & sisters in Christ. That’s cause for joy!
- Keep the proper perspective, part 2. Earthly joys (jobs, relationships, things) are often good but will never provide lasting fulfillment of the heavenly kind. Whenever you receive something good, see it as an expression of his love for you and remind yourself that your relationship with Him is your greatest treasure.
- Look for joy in the right place. When you wake up in the morning, get on your knees and tell God that your deepest longing for the day is to know him more. While you go about your activities, remind yourself that true joy is in walking with and living for the Lord.
Further reading on Joy:
Joy in Your Life by Charles Spurgeon
The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper