Joy, despite it all. I remember being asked what my New Year’s resolutions were a few years ago, I answered “I want to be happy”. My former colleague laughed at me and said this is impossible and unrealistic. She was probably right. What I meant though, was I wanted joy, I just did not know then that there is a difference between happiness and joy, now that I know better, I still want joy to be a part of my every life. Is this even possible?
Happiness is described as that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good, and you cannot help but smile. It is a positive emotional state that one experiences when they are content and satisfied with how their life or situations are currently presenting to them. The definition of this word seems to be based on circumstances, when life is good then only will the emotion of happiness come out but what happens when life is bad, does it mean that happiness disappears? Is there an alternative to this? I do understand why my former colleague laughed at my ambitious desire, because life continues to bring a lot of situations that will steal your happiness, and unfortunately, we do not always have control over these. Although I like feeling happy, I do not like the fact that it is so limited and short-lived.
Joy is described as good cheer and vibrant happiness. It reflects a form of happiness but suggests that it is much deeper than that. If you end your search at using a dictionary, you will most probably conclude that happiness and joy are one and the same thing. However, when digging into the scriptures, you will find that joy, a deep gladness from the LORD is defined differently. It is a gift that comes with walking closely with God. The bible reveals that unlike happiness, joy can be found in both good and bad times. Joy lasts longer than what the emotion of happiness brings us. It remains in us even though we may be enduring trials, it allows us to go through those difficulties focused on a hope and a brighter future.
The bible tells us that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Fruits are produced only when seeds are planted. After some effort and time of watering and allowing the seed to grow, we eventually see the fruit we have planted in the good soil. Fruits of the Spirit come about when we allow Jesus into our hearts and surrender to Holy Spirit to bear that fruit. We do this by being in constant fellowship with Holy Spirit, constantly allowing Him to remove weeds from our hearts and to water our lives with His rivers of living water. This sounds like a doable exercise yet so many of us move through life with sadness and brokenness though we are in a relationship with God. What then is the issue, why are so many people constantly sad and broken when the gift of joy is given to us forever, a gift that surpasses our horrible situations? I think it is because we simply have not grasped this concept, otherwise, our lives would be different. We do not fully understand that this is both a gift and a fruit of the Spirit. We are blinded to it and therefore have not tapped into it. The trick about spiritual things is that they work when done in alignment with God’s will. I know I have a constant struggle with wanting to do things my way, the logical way, a way that I can measure. However, when it comes to things of the spirit, we must continue to draw from the word of God and not necessarily on what we see.
Joy is ours. We must start by believing it, as with all things related to God, we step into these promises by faith. When that spirit of heaviness approaches you and bullies you into discouragement, you must choose joy by faith. Imagine joy as a beautiful colorful shawl or scarf that you can cover yourself with. Imagine this every time that nasty spirit of irritation, pain, or humiliation comes near you. Choose to cover yourself with this cloth and believe that Holy Spirit has already given you this gift and therefore it is yours to use and enjoy. Choose joy, despite it all. Choose to silence anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. by being decisive in choosing joy. It is there for you, but it is you choosing it despite your circumstances that makes the difference. May God help us all in choosing well.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” -Psalm 30: 11.