Good News of Great Joy: What Is Joy?
Part 2 of 6
a. The greatest. Joy is the pursuit of every human heart. Everyone wants joy and everyone acts according to what they think will bring it into their life. Even the most destructive of behaviors stem from a desire to find joy. Think about it. Alcohol and drug abuse are a search for joy. Our culture’s current obsession with gender and sexuality is rooted in the desire for joy. The push for banning anything that would be offensive to anyone (which is not possible) is a search to create and protect joy. Those who take their own life are searching for joy that they can’t find in this life. We all know that joy is the greatest. We all desire it above all things.
b. Deeper than happiness. The words happiness and joy are often used interchangeably. But in Scripture, we find that there is a distinction in joys. To make it easier to explain let’s separate the ideas of happiness and joy. Even in the English language, happiness is not a deep as joy. Happiness is what you experience when conditions are good. It is the outcome of when good things are happening to you or you think you are in a good place. Joy, on the other hand, is independent of our circumstances. Joy comes from within and radiates out. Happiness is an effect from without. If you go outside and the weather is warm and the sun is shining and you feel good, but in the afternoon when the clouds roll in and the temperature drops 20 degrees and a cold rain chills you to the bone and then you begin to grumble, what you had experienced earlier was happiness. Joy isn’t touched by the change of weather.
c. A goal of the Christian life. Just like God is a God of love or wrath or mercy, God is a God of joy. And like those other characteristics, the joy of God is infinite and perfect. Within the triune Godhead, there is perfect joy. God does not need anything external to himself to give him joy. There is an amazing verse in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Have you ever thought of the joy of God?Since God is joy, one of the ends of the Christian life is joy. If we are growing in our faith and knowledge of God and becoming more Christlike then we will grow in joy. But many of us do not know a life of joy. Many Christians live a perpetually gloomy life. But why? Are we not told to not fear, to not be anxious about anything? If God is able to do the impossible and nothing is too difficult for him can he not give you joy?