What is joy?
Stop and ask a random person in the grocery store and they might tell you it means happiness, or even a great happiness.
But happiness just doesn’t cut it for me, not even great happiness. It doesn’t truly capture the essence of joy.
When I looked it up in the dictionary I found a more lengthy definition: “The emotion evoked by well being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”
But that didn’t seem right either. I don’t think joy comes from success, or possessing what you desire. Joy comes from the Lord.
Yet when I asked myself “what is joy?” I had trouble defining it.
I thought of joy as something that rests deep within your soul. Something that does indeed bring you happiness, but which also brings you peace and hope in times of pain or sadness. To me, joy is indescribable, just like it’s maker.
But if you are pursuing something, shouldn’t you know what it is? Afterall, how will you know where to look or know when you have found it if you don’t understand it?
So I turned to the source, searching through God’s word for every mention or joy and this is what I found:
- Joy comes from being in God’s presence- He is the source of joy!
- Joy is an expression – a shout, a song, a praise to God (He is the object of joy!)
- Joy Heals – We can find joy during suffering and our suffering can turn to joy
- Joy can be found by following God’s will- serving him with our work, following his commands, and becoming like-minded with Christ.
- Joy can and should be shared- It should exists in all of our relationships
- Joy is something we can ask for.- God gives it freely
- God finds joy in his people (that’s us!)
This is just scratching the surface on what I discovered. It is any wonder I couldn’t think of an adequate definition?
Joy can’t be summed up in a nice neat little package. But this is what I know to be true:
Joy is a desire that comes from God, a desire which can only be fulfilled by God. We are not complete without God’s joy in our lives, but learning how to live with God’s joy is a lifelong journey.
When I felt like something was missing from my life and asked God what to do, he said pursue joy. He didn’t say “you need joy,” or just “have joy.” He told me to pursue it; seek it out and follow it.
This is the journey I have been called to; to pursue joy, and allow God to change my life in the process.
I believe God would love for it to change your life too.
Looking for more on biblical joy? Check out Joy, A Biblical Definition