Joy of the heart

Joy can be a powerful experience, lived out in different ways and with various levels of intensity. I doubt anyone dislikes feeling joy. Joy is by nature pleasurable, it enriches relationships, it gives birth to peace, it affirms being loved, and joy builds hope that desires more joy. Such a simple thing, yet so profound; joy manifests gladness, appreciation, contentment, and happiness. What’s not to like about joy.

Solomon, having exhausted himself in the exploration of happiness, concluded that apart from him (God) who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy… (Ecclesiastes 2:25-26). The experience of joy is a gift of common grace which equally applies to everyone. But for those seeking the highest levels of joy, regardless of circumstances, it can only be found by first of all being a God pleaser. The bonus of being a God pleaser first and foremost, is that God gifts you with wisdom and knowledge first, and from these comes joy.

For believers in Jesus Christ, joy is far more than an emotion than may, or may not, be achievable. Joy is an intrinsic component of life designed into us as image bearers of our Creator. Joy is the second facet of a life controlled by God the Holy Spirit; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy… (Galatians 5:22). Some may mock at the idea that although you do not now see him (Jesus Christ), you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9). This is at the very heart of what it is to be a Christian. We exercise faith, valuing God’s gift of salvation above worldly pleasure. Consequently, we experience joy that’s not dependent upon fleshly pleasures. And when we experience the physical and emotional highs of life, we celebrate them with gladness and energy.

Obviously, because we do not live in ‘Lala land,’ we Christians confess being touched by the struggles and pains of life, and sometimes often. And yes, there are chapters in life when pain works powerfully to impair our Christian joy. It would be false for us to deny this. However, for the children of God who maintain a Christ-centred focus during those painful chapters, there is a deep joy which may not be able to jump or dance with excitement, but inwardly rejoices with thanks for the faithfulness of God. Then, as life changes, and we are enabled, we express our joy more outwardly for others to share. Especially during the difficult seasons, Solomon’s words ring true; the hope of the righteous brings joy… (Proverbs 10:28). Regardless of whether our earthly pains are brief or life-long, hope in God for eternal life brings joy. Being convinced of your soul’s security in Christ, He produces a joy beyond compare, especially when we are physically or emotionally unable to show it outwardly. This inner rest is in Christ and cannot be touched by people or circumstances (Heb 4:3).

So, we have joy in Christ, sometimes quiet and calm, other times loud and exuberant. It’s a joy that lives for the day when because of being imputed with Christ’s righteousness, we hear His welcoming words as we enter heaven. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’ (Matthew 25:21). Then, to our fullest ability, the joy of Jesus Christ will infiltrate and overwhelm us for His glory.

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