I consider myself a joyful person.  I may not always seem like it, or my face may not always betray my inner joy, but by and large, I am genuinely filled with joy.  I thought we might explore this whole idea of joy and what it can mean for our lives.

It seems to me, joy and sadness can many times live on opposite sides of the same coin.  They can appear to be extremes, but I really believe they live close together because they inform one another.  It would be hard to conceive of and deeply understand the heights of joy without knowing and experiencing the depths of sadness.  Bear with me here, I know it seems a little odd to say they exist near one another, almost like you can’t really know one without the other.

Being in a state of joy, or coming into a state of joy is very much a conscious decision we make.  I know when joy appears it may seem as if it has come out of nowhere, but it hasn’t.  We contribute from within ourselves much of how joy comes to us.  It is a God-given thing in each person.

I find myself not only feeling joyful much of the time, I cling to that joy all the tighter when I do find myself engulfed in sadness, grief, even anger.  Those are temporary feelings that I can never allow to steal my joy.  Even when I have to deal with difficult situations, or even difficult people/relationships, I still have joy.  Joy is what leads me to love without exception.  You and I know persons who appear easy to love and who appear hard to love.  Guess what?  Those conditions exist in every person.  At any given time I know I can be easy to love and also hard to love.  It goes with the territory of being human, its in our DNA, it is knit into the fabric of who we are.  God knew this in creating us.  God knew we had to have both sides to our personalities, but God also knew joy was the thing that could even us out, and certainly draw us closer to God’s presence.

Joy appears over more than 180 times in most translations of the Bible, whereas happiness only appears in very few verses.  What we know is, Joy is a state of being, where happiness is transient, it comes and goes.  The joy we have, the joy we can cling to, comes from God and sees us through all sorts of circumstances.  As I said earlier, we can have joy even in the midst of the most trying of situations.  I read somewhere even if we are having a bad day, we can joyfully focus our minds on God and all God has blessed us with.  There is always joy to be found in God’s presence in our lives.

Just a few of my favorite verses on joy and all it can mean to our lives…

Psalm 126:5-6,“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

Psalm 71:23,“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.”

Isaiah 55:12,“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Romans 15:13,“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

James 1:2,“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
Acts 2:28,“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Romans 12:12,“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Joy is always present and available to us.  We can have that joy because it comes from God, and we ourselves can find and hold on to that joy.  I know from my own experiences, when I have been the most down, the most sad, the most grieved, and even the most angry or hurt, clinging to joy has always been my life preserver!

I want to encourage all of us to find and cling to the joy God has placed within us.  May God’s joy be ever present, ever growing, and ever expanding in our lives.

Your fellow traveler on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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