In the Old Testament, joy was an expression of excitement celebrating when God did something mighty, a personal triumph, a good harvest, or a military victory. Feasts—with dancing and plenty of food—were often considered times of joy.
In the New Testament, joy comes from the Holy Spirit. It is associated with receiving or telling of God’s love. Our joy doesn’t come from things that go well, but from the knowledge that God’s love is sure.
Questions to ask:
- How does joy show up in my life? What makes me most joyful? What things do I have to celebrate?
- How is joy different than happiness? How can you be joyful when circumstances suck: When your mom has cancer or you’ve boyfriend just broke up with you?
Passage to consider:
- David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals (1 Chronicles 15:16).
- "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).
- "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1:2-3).
Keep in mind some of the experiences that shaped Paul: he was shipwrecked three times, beaten badly, tossed in prison multiple times, deprived of sleep, runs short on food and water [2 Corinthians 11:24 ff]. Joy takes on a whole new meaning when you remember what frustrating circumstances Paul was in when he wrote these things!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7