Joy is defined in the dictionary as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness; delight; great pleasure; jubilation; triumph; gladness; exhilaration; glee; exuberance; elation; euphoria; bliss; ecstasy; rapture; radiance; happiness over an unanticipated or present good”. Sounds pretty full-on doesn’t it? I’m not sure that I can think of many times in my life when I have felt like this. Can you?
To be joyful is to be full of joy. Simple huh?!? Well, not really. I think this is a really hard one to write about. Right at this very moment, I’m not feeling incredibly joyful or happy even. It’s the start of a new year and I’m feeling all kinds of excitement and expectation, but I’m also feeling kind of apprehensive and unsure. You see, there is a lot of hype around social media especially at this time of year and I’ve kind of got sucked in to everyone else’s beautiful life and wonderful plans and I am left feeling inadequate and discontent. Decidedly not joyful! Yet, I will persist!
The Bible talk about Joy a lot and there are many pieces of literature that others have written on this subject. It’s kind of overwhelming. But, let me attempt to summarise what Biblical Scholars and lessor man/woman say about this subject. In Hebrew [sama], it has a few definitions, however, can basically be defined to mean: an extreme happiness. The Greek word for Joy can be defined to mean: we will find appreciation and rejoicing. And, apparently there are different types of joy too. This is becoming a very interesting subject to navigate the more I look into it…
Kay Warren (Pastor Rick Warren’s wife) has written a beautiful book on Joy – “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough” – and Pastor Rick Warren has written an insightful blog piece around the subject that simplifies it all for us. He says this: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/the-definition-of-joy Isn’t that beautiful?
After studying this topic for a while, I came up with an epiphany (while I was in the shower of all places, ha!). Despite what the dictionary says and how it defines Joy as being happiness of some kind, the Bible tells me differently. It tells me that joy is not about feelings, or just about feelings – which happiness is. No! It is so much more than that. Joy to me is about Hope. Hope that God will come through, hope that it will all turn out alright, hope that in-spite of my circumstances, battles & challenges, I can rejoice. I think I would define Joy as HAPPINESS and HOPE INTERTWINED. Yes! A collision of happy and hope equals JOY! I can work with that!
So, now, let’s get back to my grumbling about this new year and all the conflicting feelings I have about it… I’m not sure about you, but I want to be joyful and I want that joy to be something that resonates within me throughout this new year, for the entire year. I want to be joyful despite of feeling momentary happiness. I believe that it’s possible too! As we have just learnt above, because joy is not about feelings but a deep hope and faith in God, I think this difficult subject has just become really simple. If you trust in God, if you have faith and hope in Him who is the source of all our joy, ask Him and you can and will have joy.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “…the joy of the Lord is your strength“. John 15:11 develops the notion further: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”. Note that Joy is completely and entirely something that comes from the Lord. It’s His and He generously and freely gives it to us. It’s actually one of the fruits of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
So, you are joyful. In-spite of what you are feeling. You are joyful! It’s that glorious hope that wells up inside you, it’s that trust and belief that everything is not just going to alright, but it’s going to be wonderful, extraordinary, radiant, delightful, blissful and exhilarating. It’s the rejoicing that happens in your soul and spirit. It’s the uplifting that encouragement brings. It’s the intertwining of happiness and hope. The colliding of feelings and trust. It’s a gift and a choice. It’s being full of joy.
I pray that over you. I pray that you are joy-full. I encourage you to find that joy, to seek it, to develop it and as you do, that it will well up inside you. Unspeakable, overwhelming, uncontrollable joy that you can’t contain. I pray that you experience happiness and hope colliding and intertwining this year. I pray that you are joyful in 2018. Because beautiful one, you are… JOYFUL!