In some moments, joy grabs you! The day your toddler discovers bubbles with laughter and delighted eyes, and you find yourself bubbling over with joy in the moment. The first snowball of winter that smashes with a thud into your back and elicits a joyful romp through the snow to pay your friend back in kind. That moment of sunrise with a steaming cup of coffee when all the worlds ills are far away and joy is near.
Other moments, days, or weeks, joy can seem elusive, like one who is a bit too good at this game of hide-and-seek. In those times depression and despondency can overtake us making joy seem like something lost, never to be found again. The desperate waiting at the bedside of a sick loved one. The important person who walked out of your life… permanently it seems. The wandering child lost in the fog of addiction. The unknown.
How is it our joy seems tethered to our more transient feelings and situations?
The world equates joy with happiness, and there is happiness in joy. But for the Christian joy is so much more. What is it? How do we find it? How do we keep it and not let it escape with every perceived tragedy?
For Christians, joy is a deep-rooted, inspired happiness inside us that flows from being in relationship with a good, good God. Scriptures make it clear…
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11
For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. Psalm 21:6-7
O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4
Apart from a relationship with Jesus and our Heavenly Father, joy will remain elusive. He is our source of joy. He plants joy in our hearts by His Spirit. Galatians 5:22 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is… joy!” That section of scripture talks about our walk through life, either a walk by the Spirit or a walk in the flesh. We have a choice. The former brings joy. The latter brings disasters: “… strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, dissension, factions… .” So we who are His, “… those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-26) And in that we find joy.
Finding joy is not nearly as complicated as we make it. We manipulate, control, buy, eat, drink and try to be merry, all to find joy. But in reality it takes just one thing. Mary knew that “One Thing” – to sit at Jesus’ feet in humble, loving relationship with Him. But we run, chasing after more, and leave Jesus and joy sitting behind waiting for us to come back to the relationship. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Today, let us seek Him and be strengthened. Let us listen to Him and find peace. Let us hear His voice through His Word and find hope. Let us sit down at His feet and rest our weary, tortured souls and find joy in relationship with Our Creator once again.