I have found myself crying out for more joy in my life. Perhaps you are like me and you go through times of difficulty and challenge and wonder, “where is my joy?” The funny thing is that life could be going great and you can still feel like you have lost your joy. It could be that things are very challenging for you – at the job, at home, in relationships, etc. We all go through such seasons. What makes things worse is that when we have lost our joy, we seem to bump into the most joyous Christians in the world! Doesn’t that get under your skin? (Ok, I am not perfect, but it does get under my skin at times.) The good news is that when I find I am without joy in my life it is an indicator that I am missing something even more than I realized – communion with Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that Jesus will never leave His children alone. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). He went on to say, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). These two verses point toward the Holy Spirit. In fact, scripture says that believers are immediately indwelled by the Spirit of Christ upon true belief. Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are sons God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.” Paul also called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Jesus in Philippians 1:19 where he wrote, “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.” So really, the Holy Spirit is Jesus in us. That is why Paul in Colossians states that the great mystery that has been revealed to the Saints is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:26-27). Of course, this is only for believers who have placed their full trust in Jesus Christ. I hope that is you reading this. If not, I appeal to you to talk to Jesus right now and ask Him to forgive you of all sin and to come into your life through the Holy Spirit.
Here’s where we get to the reasons we lose our joy. The Bible says that we can grieve the Holy Spirit and thus when we do, we are grieving Christ (Eph 4:30, Isa 63:10). In our personal relationships we can grieve one another by treating each other poorly. When we give dirty looks, ignore, yell, speak harsh words, or even do ugly deeds to another we grieve them. It causes a rift in fellowship. The interesting thing is that when we treat others poorly we not only grieve them, but also Christ in us. He commanded us to love one another as He loves us. When we don’t we are sinning against Him and them. Another way we grieve Christ, is to neglect pursuing a deeper relationship with Him. Just like a marriage, if you want to grow in fellowship with your spouse you must pursue him/her. Don’t expect a deep and thriving relationship if you are unwilling to serve, bless, encourage, and enjoy your spouse. Instead the relationship will grow cold and weary. There will be no joy! Do you see where I am going with the connection to joy and communion with Christ?
True joy for the Christian is found by pressing into the Holy Spirit (Christ in us). Paul wrote, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). Notice the Kingdom of God is made up of who Christ is: He is our righteousness, He is our peace, and He is our joy! Paul also wrote to a persecuted people, “in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1Thes 1:6). His implication was that joy is even present in tough times if the times are endured through the Spirit, or relying upon the presence of Christ in us. In Acts 13:52 we are told, “The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” This was written about a group of believers who were at the time being persecuted. Yet they had joy! The teaching here is that being filled with the Holy Spirit, or the presence of Christ, leads to perfect joy. This is why joy is a flavor of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). When the Spirit is in full control joy is able to abound. When the Spirit is grieved, joy runs away.
Some may say, “Well you don’t know my situation and how bad it is.” You are right, I don’t. I dare not say that you are to be “happy” about things in your life, but I am convinced through reading the scriptures that if Christians can accept beating and persecutions and be in total joy (Acts 5:41, 13:52), then we can have joy in the midst of all our trials. That is what James spoke about when he wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds” (Jas 1:2).
So how is the done? How can we reclaim our joy? It all comes down to Jesus, your trust in the Word of God, and your perspective. First, pure joy comes from being in the presence of God because God is joy. All Christians are indwelled by the Spirit of God and have the ability to press in for more joy and more understanding of His presence. You must, however, have a right relationship with Him. To get your joy back you must come clean with God. Confess your sins and admit your faults (1Jn 1:9) to Him and sometimes to others (Jas 5:16). Your Father in Heaven is waiting to give you His forgiveness if you come to Him. Forgiveness is the #1 joy thief. Many walk around not willing to forgive others. Do you realize that if you don’t forgive others, you cannot walk in forgiveness yourself and will not have joy (Matt 6:14-15). You will not have joy until you TRULY forgive others their sins against you. Remember, forgiveness is complete when you can say “they don’t owe me anything, and I can now live blessing them and wanting the best for them.” Remember, the presence of Jesus is where you will find true joy so it is necessary that you focus upon Him asking Him if there is anything in your life that is withholding His joy.
Second, you must trust the Word of God. Believe that you have been given the joy of the Lord. Isaiah 29:19 states, “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord.” The joy of the Lord is yours for the taking. You must believe that truth! If you have a solid relationship with Jesus, have confessed your sins, and have been pursuing Christ with all your heart, by faith receive your joy! God is not wanting to keep joy from you – joy is who He is. If you have the Spirit of the Living God in you, and the Spirit is “joy” as we have already seen, then you have God’s joy. You must believe it and begin to praise Him for it. I think sometimes we fail to receive the joy of God because we don’t step out in faith. There are a great many people waiting for something to hit them on the head and give them joy. It doesn’t usually happen that way because it is impossible to please the Lord without faith (Heb 11:6). You must by faith step in to the place of joy. How? Start praising God and giving Him thanksgiving. The Psalmist wrote, “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psa 84:2). The Psalmist was crying for God’s presence which brings joy so he let his heart sing for that joy. What is singing? It is making a sound of praise and joy. The principle of receiving your joy is almost like the old saying, “if you build it they will come.” If you praise Jesus with a true heart, your joy will return!
Finally, to keep your joy your perspective must be maintained upon the Lord Jesus. In all things we are to give Him thanksgiving. In Psalm 50:14 we are told, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Sometimes thanksgiving is a sacrifice. Sometimes it hurts to praise Him in the midst of trials, but the reason we can is because we know His goodness. We know He is bigger than all our problems. We know He is more amazing and has more of His glory to reveal to us. Philippians 4:6 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Keep a perspective of His goodness, His grace, His love, His amazing plans for you and give Him thanks even on the days where it is the hardest. Your joy will remain, your faith will rise, and the Lord God will move in your life with great power! Why? Because He loves you! If God is for you, who can be against you? So praise Him today!
May the true joy of the presence of Christ overwhelm all who press into Jesus and trust His word and praise His holy name, Amen.