Words often take on new meaning when you experience them personally first hand. What I am referring to is the difference between being happy and having joy. I always thought of them as the same, a temporary emotion or feeling that often changes with our circumstances. I guess that is why I never could truly experience either one of them on a consistent basis. Let’s be real here, being happy and having true joy can be very difficult if your preconceived notions of the meaning of either word do not line up with your life experiences. For this article, I am going to talk about joy. In the process of finding joy on a consistent basis, I wanted to get a true understanding of what the word even meant. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defined joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (delight) the expression or exhibition of such emotion : (gaiety) a state of happiness or felicity (bliss) a source or cause of delight . I don’t know about you, but if I were really sold on the notion of the word joy based on the meanings above, it would still sound temporary, and superficial. I guess I wanted more, and knew with God I could expect to experience Joy on a much deeper, satisfactory level.
I love how Kay Warren defined Joy in her book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness isn’t Enough when she wrote that Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
I love that, it means so much more to me emotionally. It doesn’t say that everything is always going to be good, or pleasant in my life, it means to me that no matter what, God loves me, and is in total control of all situations. That the Faith I have in God in knowing that He Is, who He says He Is! The words “quiet confidence” to me means peace, safety, hope and strength. The most important part is when she says “the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” The key word is choice, and I choose God, I choose to love Him, and I choose to trust Him!
Can I be honest and vulnerable with you? It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life. It has never been this peaceful, and I like many others use to tie my “emotions and experiences” in defining my level of joy. That is a scary notion to have, because experiences are often summed up with unreliable and inconsistent emotions. There was a time in my life after my younger brother passed away, that joy was a thing of the past. I was very angry with God, and turned away from Him. In my infinite wisdom maybe I thought I was trying to get back at God for taking someone so treasured by me, I do not know, It does not make a lot of logical sense, that I know. Thank goodness that God is so patient, and kind, and unconditional in His love for all of us, for I would have really been in a permanent mess! The reason I mention that experience is a few months ago, I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law, and it was during one of the saddest moments, that the most amazing opportunity to glorify and worship God in the midst of pain is almost unexplainable!
So to help others in their journey of obtaining joy, I will leave the wisest words, Scripture
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
2 John 1:12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This was taken from a great article that I will attach so that you can read more on joy.
In conclusion, my favorite verse on Joy is found in James 1:2-4
New International Version (NIV)
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
May you find the peace and joy that you are looking for!