As a young man, my husband found himself searching for peace. He hadn’t had much spiritual guidance in his early years, and so he looked in all the wrong places. Unfortunately, he found “peace” in Buddhism. What he didn’t know at the time was the peace Jesus offers is so much more than anything this world has to offer.
My husband realized later that the peace he had discovered through Buddhism came at a price, and the cost for him was joy. While he went about his days with an inner “peace,” he had no hope, no joy in life. What a dismal existence! He had no friends and didn’t understand why. In hindsight the why is quite clear: who wants to be friends with an ice cube?
Thankfully he found the peace that only Jesus Christ can give. And not only peace, but the joy that comes with it.
What is joy?
Webster defines it as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” When our hope and future are secure in Jesus Christ, we have an expectation of good, that’s for sure!
Did you know that “joy” appears 527 times in the Bible? That’s a lot! One of my favorites is these words of Jesus in John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.” (NET) That it may be complete. Who wouldn’t want that?
Joy is an interesting thing. We can’t make it happen. It’s not really something we decide on. And it’s not dependent on our circumstances. (That’s happiness. We can choose to be happy or not, but we can’t just choose to have joy. Whether our days go as we hope or not affects our happiness, not our joy.) it’s based on the expectation of good that we have in Christ, so it doesn’t change just because our picnic was rained out.
The command to rejoice
An interesting correlation to joy is the command throughout Scripture to rejoice. Webster tells us this means “to experience joy and gladness in a high degree.” Check out what these verses have to say:
1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Always rejoice.”
Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!”
Romans 12:11-12, “Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.”
Psalms 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has brought about. We will be happy and rejoice in it.”
Psalms 97:12, “You godly ones, rejoice in the Lord! Give thanks to his holy name.”
1 Chronicles 16:31, “Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be happy! Let the nations say, ‘The Lord reigns!’”
It appears to me that we are told to rejoice, which would mean we do have a choice to make. When we keep our focus on the Lord, His work in our lives and the joy He gives, we can choose to rejoice in Him. Not that the choice is always easy. I woke up to a big mess this morning, and started my day with grumbling. But I can choose, right now, to focus on Him while I do what needs to be done, and in Him I can rejoice despite messes!
What are you focusing on today? Will you choose to focus on Christ and the joy you have in Him, and rejoice?