“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
Where Is Your Joy?
When my little granddaughter began to walk, she giggled, and squealed, and waved her arms. She expressed great joy in her newly discovered ability.
The second characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” (Galatians 5:22).
Joy is “a very glad feeling; happiness; great pleasure; delight.”* There are over seventy New Testament references to joy.
Unlike happiness that might depend on our circumstances, true joy is experienced despite our circumstances. Have you ever come away from a hospital visit with a sick friend feeling uplifted and joyful because that person expresses joy? Even in times of loss or difficulty, we can experience joy. The Lord Himself is the source and object of a believer’s joy.
The prophet Habakkuk says it this way:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fall,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17,18)
Habakkuk writes this as the nation of Judah is dying. Circumstances are horrible, but he finds joy in God, the source of his joy.
Being joyful doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge our pain or the suffering of others. Life is difficult. Jesus suffered for us, and He understands our suffering and is ready to help us deal with it. I grieved when my little grandson died and still shed tears when I think of him. Even with the pain, I still can rejoice as Habakkuk did, knowing that God is sovereign and has provided my salvation. My grandson is with Jesus, and I’ll see him in heaven one day.
All around Nehemiah lay the fallen walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s task—to mobilize the city’s residents to rebuild the wall. Not easy. The people lose their enthusiasm because their enemies deride them and interfere with the task at hand. Despite the opposition, Nehemiah prays, rallies the people, and they rebuild the wall in fifty-two days! Their enemies face the reality that God stands with Nehemiah and the Jews. When Ezra reads the Law to the Jewish people, they worship God and mourn their sin. Nehemiah admonishes them, “…this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Jesus is our example: “…who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).” We can “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” when we know Him. (I Peter 1:8)
*Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc. 1991.