Joy is something we all hope for. I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t have the desire to find true happiness and contentment in life, and we all search for it in different ways. We focus on our careers, our families, helping others, our faith, etc. all in the hope of finding true joy.
An American author named Tom Bodett once said that in order to be truly happy in this life we all need “someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” If we look at his quote through biblical eyes, I do believe he’s correct.
Someone to Love – We choose joy when we choose to love God.
The Bible tells us that the only source of true joy is God. Without Him, we are hopeless in our sin and we have nothing to look forward to beyond this life. As grim as that sounds, the Bible is pretty clear about this.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)
Once dead in our sin, we now have the opportunity to be alive in Christ. That is certainly something to be joyous about!
In the Old Testament, we discover that even though King David was a man after God’s own heart, he still struggled with sin. He learned the hard way that sin often leads to consequences, but God is always faithful to forgive when we confess our sin to Him.
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. …Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. – Psalm 32:1-3, 5 (NLT)
I keep coming back to that first line, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven…” We have a Creator who loves us so unconditionally that even in our sin, He still sent His Son to die for us. (Romans 5:8)
Something to Do – We choose joy when we live out God’s call on our lives.
As believers, we have been called to an amazing purpose. We will most certainly find joy as we live out this God-given call on our lives. Here are some examples:
Obedience to God: The Bible tells us time and time again, that sin leads to nothing but sorrow yet obedience to God brings us great joy.
Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. – Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT)
Ministry/Reaching the Lost: The Apostle Paul often told His fellow brothers and sisters in Christ how much joy they brought him. He found great joy in his ministry, and it shines throughout his letters to the churches.
Giving/Serving Others: God loves a cheerful giver! (2 Corinthians 9:7) God promises to bless those who give whole-heartedly with a cheerful attitude. (Luke 6:38) In addition to giving, God calls us to serve. This also needs to be done with a cheerful heart.
…You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35 (NLT)
Something to Hope For – We choose joy when we live for eternity rather than our current struggles or circumstances.
As children of God, we have an amazing hope to look forward to! Heaven awaits all those who serve Jesus here on this earth. We will be in the presence of our Father for all eternity!
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. – Psalm 16:9-11 (NLT)
In this life, we will have troubles. With heaven on our mind, however, we can be joyful in knowing that we have an amazing hope in Jesus!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. – James 1:2-3 (NLT)
One Final Thought…
When we serve God, we have found someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Joy should come automatically right? Not necessarily… Sometimes it is necessary for us to choose joy over sorrow.
In their many trials and tribulations both King David and Paul chose joy. They sang songs of thanksgiving even when things were at their worst. We have to continually remind ourselves who we are in Christ and what He has done for us. We have an amazing hope found in Him alone, but it’s easy to forget when things get tough. I encourage you to press on through these circumstances. In all things, choose joy!
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! – Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)