The Gift of Joy
Joy can seem so unattainable. Even after the past month of articles on joy, it seems outside of our reach and impossible to grasp. So we are left in a place of despondency and a position of despair. We yield ourselves to our hopeless state of being and wander through life purposeless and joyless.
The absolute beauty of joy is that it is a gift from God. We cannot attain it by our own strength and we cannot assemble it by obedience or willpower. We are only able to receive and accept joy from our Heavenly Father who is the Giver of all good things (James 1:17). When we seek to discover joy in our own power, we will be left with a false substitute that is temporary and lacking. But the joy of the Lord is eternal and greater than any and every circumstance we might encounter.
In Luke 2:10, we read, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’” Joy is the absence of fear as we walk in complete trust of the Sovereign God of the universe. We may not always be comfortable or happy, but we need not fear because everything rests within the capable hands of our Father God. We hold fast to the promise of this good news that is forever. Jesus Christ is that good news of great joy! He humbled Himself to live an obedient human life (Philippians 2:8) that would eternally atone for the sins of those who call on His name. In Christ, we have confidence and assurance for the future. We may not know the details of tomorrow, but we have joy in knowing that our eternal security is bought and paid for by the sacrificial blood of Christ. This joy is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8), available for all people. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross is sufficient for all people. His blood covers the sins of the entire world throughout all of history, but salvation is only efficient for those who confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that Jesus is the Christ (Romans 10:9). The ultimate gift of joy is Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. In Him, we are able to live joyfully with an eternal hope.
The Lord expands our joy through the process of prayer. In John 16:24, Jesus says, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” When we receive salvation from Jesus, His Spirit indwells us. With the Spirit of God directing our steps, our desire becomes more aligned with His will. As we grow in Christlikeness, our prayer more truly becomes “Thy will be done” and our joy is made full. Prayer is not an opportunity for God to grant everything our heart desires, but an opportunity for God to turn our hearts toward Himself. This is joy, desiring the will of the God more than our own happiness.
Prayer develops the attitude of a woman after God’s own heart. We also must devote ourselves to the study of God’s Word, which teaches us about His character and His eternal plan for the world. All Scripture is God breathed and through it the Psalmist says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) There is no joy outside of God. To know God is to know joy. He allows us to enter into His joy, His goodness, and His purposes as He draws us to Himself. When we know who God is then we are able to walk in faith and live in the joy of the Lord and not in our fleshly fear.
So do not strive after joy. Do not make joy or fulfillment or happiness your goal. Worship the Lord who has made a way for the redemption of your sins. Praise Him for providing a path of righteousness that is bridged by Jesus so than man may walk with God. Grow in the Lord and develop His fruit of the Spirit that your joy may be full.