How do you define joy?
What words would you use to describe it?
I want you to take a minute, grab a piece of paper, and write down your definition of joy.
Then I want you to grab your Bible and read these verses:
How does your definition fit with these verses?
You see, for most of my life I have defined “joy” as happiness or euphoria, but in the last few years the Lord has challenged me to see that my definition of joy is narrow. I have always seen it as simply an emotion, but what if it is more? What if there is more to joy than simply a feeling?
I am beginning to learn that like love joy is more than an emotion. Joy is actually an action and a choice we make. I have also been learning that unlike happiness true joy (the joy that we find in Jesus) doesn’t really go away. It is a quality that we will find in our life no matter what we are going through because it is grounded in the goodness of God and comes from Him.
Joy can be seen even when our hearts are breaking or when it feels like our worlds are falling apart. Joy doesn’t mean pretending to be happy when things go bad, but it is what enables us to smile and laugh at those times. Sometimes it is singing through clenched teeth or reminding ourselves that whatever we do we are to do it for the Lord while doing a job we hate. It is a choice to act joyful and praise God even when you don’t feel like it.
One of my favorite Christian authors is Chautona Havig. (I have mentioned her before and have reviewed at least one of her books.) She has a three-part series of books about a young woman named Aggie who at the age of 22 years old becomes legal guardian to her older sister’s eight children. (Yes, I said 8.) In these books, Chautona paints a picture to me of what true joy looks like because even on her worst days as a new mother Aggie sang hymns. Aggie would sing through clinched teeth at times and through tears at others, but no matter what was taking place around her she would sing. She would raise her voice in praise to the Lord. That is a lovely picture of joy.
Do you know someone like that? Someone who gives praise to God no matter what is going on? Are you that type of person?
Share your definition of joy in the comments.