I tend to be a dark storm cloud. When people around me are chasing sunshine and rainbows, I am perfectly content to stay in the storm cloud of reality. A friend of mine affectionately named me the “bubble popper” because I love to burst people’s bubbles. When someone has an idea for an event or a business or something they want to create, I will find holes in their plan and point them out. I try not to do this in a mean way, but as a way to help them better prepare for the impending reality.
As you might imagine, the concept of joy is one that I have struggled with because I often mistook it for happiness. I had conflated the two. I had incorrectly thought of joy as frivolous or foolish. I thought it came from burying your head in the sand and ignoring the problems of the day. But that’s not at all what true joy that comes from the Lord is.
The Holy Spirit is not frivolous or foolish and neither is the fruit that we bear when we are led by him.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
There are many verses throughout the Bible about the concept of joy, but I want to focus our attention today on the Psalms. Many of these were written by David who lived a ridiculous roller coaster life. He was immensely loved by God but hated by many in the world. He spent years fleeing from a bloodthirsty king and fought in many battles. He had the responsibility of ruling a kingdom on his shoulders and lived with eternity in his mind.
“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
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 16:7-11 (ESV)
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” Psalm 32:10-11 (ESV)
“But the righteous shall be glad;
they shall exult before God;
they shall be jubilant with joy!” Psalm 68:3 (ESV)
“Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.” Psalm 149: 3-5 (ESV)
Throughout the Psalms, David and other psalmists encourage us to have joy in the Lord because of who he is. Because of God’s salvation, we can be glad. Because of his righteousness, we rejoice. His pleasure causes us to celebrate.
Many of the calls for joy are not rooted in the temporal world that the writers saw before them. They could be joyful because of the surpassing glory of our God. They were enthralled in him and because of that they could overflow with joy. I think the same thing is true for us today.
We don’t need to manufacture joy or try to be happy all the time, but as we focus on who God is, I believe joy will spring up inside of us. We don’t have to plaster a smile on our face, but can gaze upon his face and be joyful because of who he is!
Have you believed any misconceptions about joy?
How do we allow joy to flourish in our lives?
To go Deeper: Read Are you Enjoying God?, Characteristics of the Kingdom: Celebratory
Pre-order Behold: 40 Days of Seeing and Savoring God
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