“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11
Joy. What is it? Are we meant to experience it? Does it depend upon our circumstances? Our relationship to God?
The favorite Christmas song “Joy to the World” announces joy at the coming of Jesus. That is our first clue. Joy comes when Jesus comes. Throughout Scripture I am finding joy coupled with salvation. Joy is in the presence of the Lord. John writes that Jesus said that if we keep His commandments and abide in Him then Jesus’ joy will be in us and our joy will be full. So joy comes from the Lord and is ours when we are abiding (dwelling, living constantly in the presence of) Jesus. Joy can be full – fully experienced, fully our reality, fully real – when we are abiding in Jesus. How can this be?
Joy. “Joy to the World, the Lord has come.”
Hebrews 12:2 says that we are to “…fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In other words, Jesus was able to overcome the physical circumstances and pain of His suffering on the cross because He knew that great joy was awaiting Him because of His obedience. In the same way, we are to endure whatever suffering or pain that we might experience in this world and remember that it is only for a time because as we are obedient we have great joy awaiting for us for all of eternity as we wait upon heaven. It is like a woman in labor. The pain is excruciating, the waiting seems interminable, the suffering is hard, but she endures it all with joy knowing that soon that sweet little child will be in her arms!
The really cool thing is though that even though Jesus experienced the rejection of the Father upon the cross, Jesus has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us through the pain and suffering of this world and because of that we can have joy now, not just in eternity! “The Lord has come!” As we abide with Him and stay in His presence, we can experience joy because we know that this suffering is only momentary, light affliction and that eternity is waiting for us. He is our coach for now, telling us that we can endure and overcome our circumstances. He is our encourager, our cheerleader and our reminder.
Joy is ours.
So, what is joy?
It is a deep seated feeling of being okay. It is a peace that God is in control. It is knowing that God is who He says that He is and that He will do what He says He will do. It is faith; it is hope; it is waiting and enduring. It is knowing God’s love is for me personally. It is being above and beyond the circumstances and walking on the high road with Jesus. It is knowing that in the end, we will be with Jesus for all of eternity and that it will be beyond our imagination. Joy is being right with God.
I pray that you will know joy today and each day. That you will experience joy in the midst of life’s circumstances. That you will remember to run to God and let Him fill you with joy.