What is it? Do you think it is the same as happiness? If it was, why do we have a different word to describe it?
God has taught me a lot about joy the past couple years. These have been the most challenging years of my life. I had a difficult job that had me crunching numbers all day (and, as you can see, I prefer writing), moving away to college (and graduating!), and relationships that broke into a million pieces… and left me broken as well.
Wait. I thought this was supposed to be about joy!
It still is. The back story is necessary to show that joy is not the same as happiness. I was not happy trying to develop the math side of my brain, or happy that a close friend told me they’d be there, then broke off our friendship completely.
At those low moments, God wrapped me up in His arms. He gave me peace, and peace’s friend joy showed up too. I decided I wanted them to stay. I love this quote that defines joy:
“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.” Rick Warren
Settled assurance reminds me of peacefully trusting God. As a child of God, in the end everything will be alright. It will be way better than alright, it will be awesome! It is a determined choice to praise God. Another way of doing that is thanking Him. Have you tried thanking Him for the trials, such as health issues or broken relationships? Yeah right, you say. Honestly, a few years ago, thanking Him for those things would’ve sounded ridiculous to me too. But not anymore.
Why? Because when I thank God for what He will do through the difficulties, I am showing Him I trust Him. His ways are much higher than mine, and I believe He has a plan for me.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The situation may not change. The friend may never ask for forgiveness, and your health concerns may stick around. What truly changes is our attitude. Thanking God, and therefore praising Him, opens your heart to receive the amazing, incomparable joy that He gives lavishly. Go on and soak it up!
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (Jesus’ words)
Thanks for reading! I’m praying that you will be abundantly blessed with the joy of the Lord.