An apology is first and foremost necessary: I am deeply sorry for my lack of writing. Sheri and I had planned to do a post every week this summer to offer y’all encouragement, but that hasn’t happened, and it’s my fault. Moving, then not moving, then moving again, pregnancy (first trimester has been awful), and life has sidetracked the mission that God has given us. I ask for your forgiveness and pray that I may be more focused.
Fruit of the Spirit: Joy
Let me tell you what! 4 months ago I could have written a book on joy, but the last couple months with the way that my life has been going…well, joy has been lacking.
As some of you know, I struggle with depression. I’ve lived in it and with it for longer than I haven’t. But over the last few years I really went to war with the enemy. Claiming back the ground that my Savior died for. No longer would I be dictated by feelings. No longer would I stand for the lies that swirled in my head. No longer would I be a victim to the enemies schemes. I was in a battle for my life! It was a long hard year (or more) of constant inner work. But I can stand before you today and say, “I am free. Because my Jesus said I am free indeed!”
This process of trusting God in ways I had never before, having great faith when I wanted to give up, and choosing to believe what He says about me is true led me to discover, that just like love, joy is a choice.
Joy is completely determined by your proximity to God.
The sheer joy I feel pulsing through my body when I’m doing the Lord’s work is not only contagious to those around me, it’s confirmation that I’m doing what He has called me to. When I can find joy in God’s Word after an argument with someone close to me, I know that it’s because my heart was longing to be close to Him. When someone looks at a snippet of my life and wonders how I could possibly be standing under the weight of that which I carry (whatever that burden may be at the moment), I know it’s because my joy is not determined by my circumstances. My joy is my salvation (Psalm 51:12).
Joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
God’s character brings us joy (Psalm 63:7).
God created you and called you to His name with a shout of joy (Psalm 105:43).
Joy is healing (Proverbs 17:22).
When we abide in Him His joy is in us, and that joy will be whole and complete (John 15:1-11).
I have also discovered that joy is not happiness. They are not the same thing. Joy is a choice, happiness is a feeling and feelings are fleeting. Joy is not determined by your circumstances, whereas happiness is. Think about it. You’re happy when you get a compliment, but then you stub your toe and that happy feeling fades with the pain. Of course, we have experienced that happiness can last for more than a mere moment; I assume that when you buy your first house, along with anxiety, fear and dread there is some amount of happiness. Which I will also assume can last for days. (Obviously, we haven’t bought our first home yet…in the process of…).
As a believer in Jesus Christ, you already have joy abounding, because it’s a fruit of the Spirit. You may just need to make some changes in your life to experience it (more). What works for me is not going to work for you. But I do believe that for everyone-young, old, man, and woman-your proximity to God determines the amount of joy you will experience. I know this from personal experience, and as you can see from the Scripture passages above, the Bible says it too.
1. You already possess joy as a believer
2. You’re proximity to God determines your amount of Joy
3. Joy is a choice
4. Joy is not dictated by your circumstances
My prayer is that the eyes of your heart would be opened to understanding what true joy is. That your relationship with Christ would flourish, and in that newness with Him you would experience and forever crave the joy that He gives.
What have you found to be the most joy inducing activity or action or thing in your life?
For me, it’s simply being in the presence of the One who loves me. Whether that’s through singing a song, writing, studying His Word, serving or something else entirely. Being with Him gives me the greatest joy I have ever experienced. A joy that cannot be taken away.