(The following is a piece I wrote for another blog in 2014. I have updated and revised it for this blog.)
Where a person finds joy can encompass a great deal of areas. We all have activities we enjoy, people we with which we love to have fellowship, children we adore, spouses we love, ministries we want to flourish, and dare I say: foods we love to eat. All of these activities and objects are wonderful in and of themselves, but when taken out of perspective, we will find they often rob us of our joy rather than bring us joy.
What is joy? Among all the bible dictionaries and collegiate dictionaries, joy is defined in many ways, but the most common definition I found is this: a feeling of pleasure or happiness; a calm delight. Biblical joy is the result of a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The joy of the Lord is evident in our lives even when we are facing trials. How can this be? How can we have joy in the midst of trials? The answer is simple. The Holy Spirit is living inside every believer, and according to Galatians 5:22-23, joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in an individual. Of course, we have periods of sadness and mourning, and no one finds joy in these periods to begin with; however, when the Lord begins the healing process, after brokenness, joy cannot help but spring forth.
Far too often, we try to find our joy from sources other than the Lord. I know I have! Looking for joy in eating what I want when I want it, my husband doing everything I want him to do, my children behaving perfectly, or, my job having no problems, causes me to lose focus rather than looking to Jesus, the source of all joy. When I find my joy in Him, life’s hardships and challenges come into proper perspective, and I no longer look to any other thing to bring joy.
Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Wow! There is no other place to find true and lasting joy than in the presence of the Lord, and this joy is full and complete. Knowing that joy comes from His presence and not in an idol, I need to spend time in His presence, sitting at His feet, or better still, getting in His face so I can know His heart.
Take notice of the last portion of Psalm 16:11 which says, “At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When I am spending time in His presence to find fullness of joy, I will experience pleasure. God never meant for us to avoid the enjoyment of this life He gave us. He meant for us to enjoy the food we have to eat. He meant for us to enjoy our ministries, friends, church family, and many others placed in our lives. He gave us all these people and things for enjoyment. Our joy disappears when any of these things or people become a god to us because we are no longer going to His presence for the fullness of joy only our Lord can bring. Instead, we expect people to fulfill us. We expect food to bring us fullness of joy. We tend to think that if we just had a little more food, a little more money, a little more of this or that, we would have joy and happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth! Fullness of joy comes when we are tapped into the source of joy—the presence of the Lord!
Nehemiah 8:10 says the following: “Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” We love to quote that last part which tells us the joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is true! Without the fullness of joy that comes from the Lord’s presence, we will be weak and powerless to fight our battles. However, notice the first part of that verse which says to go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks. God gave us pleasure including food. We are told to enjoy what God has given and be thankful for it. What happens is like I said before, we look to the food and drink for joy rather than getting in the presence of the Lord for fullness of joy.
It is no wonder that Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 to seek the Lord first then everything else would be added to us. He knew that if we didn’t know the source of joy, nothing or no one else could bring us that joy. Jesus is awesome and like no other!
What about you? Where do you find your joy? Do you attempt to find joy in any other avenue but the Lord? Do you need to tap into the right source for joy today?