Joy. Sometimes I confess it is elusive. Whenever I seek to be joyful or to rejoice it isn’t easy to turn that faucet on. Can you identify with that?
Personally I see as a pastor a lot of pain in people’s lives. Sin and struggle. Hurt and loss. Disappointments from circumstances and people. If I’m not careful, that’s all I see, and rejoicing feels like a foggy land I can’t get to. You may be there too!
Joy is not as simple as pasting on a smile or merely acting happy.
So, what is joy anyway? And how can we rejoice in this challenging life?
Let’s turn to Psalm 33:1–5 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. (ESV)
This Psalm teaches us that “praise befits the upright.” In other words, it’s fitting for God’s people to be full of joy!
I love hanging out with genuinely joyful Christians. They aren’t easily offended, they approach hard issues with patience, they love people and laugh freely. In other words, they exhibit the other Fruit of the Spirit in their joy. Do you know people like this?
Recognize that God wills all His people to be like this. He commands us to rejoice:
- Shout for joy (1)
- Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre (2)
- Make melody to him with the harp of ten strings (2)
- Sing to him a new song (3)
- Play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts (3)
The Lord knows our hearts need to be primed to rejoice, and those commands tell us the means to rejoice in joy. I find Jesus rejoicing in song like this in the New Testament. He knew this Psalm and obeyed it fully. He sang with His disciples after the Last Supper on the way to the Garden of Gethsemene. He sings even now as our Resurrected Lord and King in Heaven (see Heb. 2:12). Jesus was and is today and will forever be the most joyful Person we could ever be with. What does He delight and rejoice in? Psalm 33 gives us fuel for rejoicing like Jesus.
- We have joy because God has given us His Word and forever settled it. He won’t change it. What He says is true and totally trustworthy. So, rejoice! (33:4,11)
- We have joy because God has given us His steadfast love. He won’t remove it from us, no matter what happens to us or what we go through. So, rejoice! (33:5,18,22)
- We have joy because God controls all the nations. Nothing happens outside of His power and control. The blessing is on the nation who fears God. So, rejoice! (33:10-12)
- We have joy because the stability and strength of our lives doesn’t depend on our strength or the shaky foundation of human leaders. God Himself is our strength. So, rejoice! (33:13-19)
- We have joy because we have the Lord. Christ is our gladness and joy. So, rejoice! (33:20-22).
Joy, then, is a settled gladness in God – who He is and what He does.
So, friends, when you feel down, even struggling with depression, don’t try to fake your way out of it. There are hard realities in life, and the joyful Christian doesn’t ignore them. He or she instead shifts the focus from the hard realities to the unchanging truth of God.
From time to time Pastor Sam Polson has reminded us of the prayer of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12 – “Lord, we don’t know what to do” (the acknowledgement that life is tough, trials are at the door, and we don’t have the resources to change things) “but our eyes are on you” (the God who speaks, loves, controls all things, gives strength to His people and delights us with His presence). Yes, instead of looking to get joy, God’s people look to the Lord. And joy comes.
How, then, can you experience joy?
- Spend quality time in God’s Word, orienting your mind and heart on God’s truth.
- Pray, worshipping God for who He is.
- Focus on the Lord Jesus, praising Him for His sacrifice and life given for you. Praise Him for His joyful presence always.
- Sing songs of praise to the Lord!
- Gather (and thankfully we will soon!) with God’s people. Surround yourself with genuinely joyful Christians, those types I referred to above. Seek them out, for that kind of Spirit-driven joy really seems to be contagious!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4, ESV)
A song to remind you of our Joy in Christ – Forever Jesus
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control