Christians are meant for joy. We discover true joy only in a right relationship with God, which transforms how we view other people, our relationships with them and also how we view the material blessings given to us freely by our heavenly Father.
Joy is something which is badly misunderstood, sometimes even by Christians. To better appreciate the joy God has created us to enjoy, let us be more aware of counterfeit joy.
Joy is not the same thing as fun and games. Many people are fun-seekers without finding joy. A person can have ‘fun’ but remain joyless.Irresponsible pursuit of pleasure is common in our times and actually points to a lack of joy.
True joy is of God and therefore by its very nature, holy. Christians certainly can have fun but let’s not mistake fun for joy.We can have joy without fun just as we can have fun without joy. The two are not necessarily connected.
Think of Paul and Silas. They were in prison and certainly not having fun. But they had joy. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (Acts 16:25).”
Joy is also not being a ‘jolly good fellow’ who is always smiling and cheerful and is generally the life of the party.Some Christians are like that while others are not and never will be. This is a matter of temperament and has nothing to do with joy.
I think that is good news because if joy is dependent on having a sunshine personality or jolly temperament, some of us would be disqualified from ever having joy.
Joy is not the same thing as being carefree. Again advertisers would have us think that taking a vacation and getting away from it all is the key for joy.But if that were so, as soon as the holiday is over and you return to the responsibilities and burdens of life, joy ends because you are no longer carefree.
On the night He was betrayed, less than 24 hours before His crucifixion, the Lord said to His disciples:
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:10-11).”
Even at that moment Jesus has joy, although He was not carefree.
Similarly, Paul in prison facing possible execution was not carefree, yet he had an abundance of joy and wrote to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Php 4:4).”
Joy was the reality for both the Lord and the apostle despite the pressure of getting killed. It should be reality for us today too.
Since joy should be reality for Christians today, why then are some not experiencing joy more abundantly?People, even Christians, who are hurting, find it hard to believe that it is possible for them to have this joy in the Lord.
They may even get bitter and angry when they know others are experiencing joy and want to share it with them.
There are eight hindrances to joy common to humans. Christians are not spared from experiencing them in life. We can label them the four black Ds and the four black Fs.The four black Ds are: disappointment, desolation, depression and desperation. The four black Fs are: frustration, failure, fear and fury.
Christians are not victims or prisoners of either the past or the present. The power of forgiveness is at work in our lives.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).”
We have before us the promise of deliverance. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment(2Pe 2:9).”
Joy will someday be ours in the fullest measure. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev 21:4).”
We should not give way to the negative feeling that life will never be better for us than it is now.Christians ought to have incredible heart capacity. Grief, desolation and pain are triggered by present situations but faith produces joy, hope and peace.
It doesn’t mean we will never experience grief, desolation and pain, it means we experience something else alongside the hurt.It is possible for Christians today, like Paul, to be ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2Co 6:10).’
True joy is not a result of our circumstances or situations; it is a result of being rightly related to the God who designed us for joy.
Nehemiah and Ezra encouraged the people, saying, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10).”And David said, “The king shall have joy in your strength, O LORD; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice (Psa 21:1)!”