Updated: May 7, 2020
Joy is a deliberate act of obedience in response to who Christ is and what he has done.
At three years old, my son was diagnosed with Lupus. It was pretty devastating. On a morning not long after the diagnosis, I fell to my knees in prayer, grieving, crying to God, and begging for my son’s healing. I also prayed for God’s peace, His wisdom and His strength for us endure whatever may come. As I prayed on the floor of my room, for the first time in my prayer life, I actually physically and emotionally felt the burden lifted from me. I felt Jesus take my yoke upon Himself. Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It was an incredible moment.
However, that didn’t mean that all my fear and sadness just disappeared. During a conversation with my mom about his illness, I was crying and she pleaded with me to not to lose hope. “Just because I’m crying, Mom, doesn’t mean I don’t have hope,” I said. This, and the experience on the floor of my room, were evidence that even in the midst of my tears, my grief and my fear, the solid footing of Christ kept me from utter despair. It was through this crisis that I really began to experience and understand what Biblical joy is.
To me, Biblical joy is not just happiness, putting a smile on my face or never feeling any negative emotions. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, a gift from the Holy Spirit that provides us with an unshakeable foundation of peace, hope and love that we can confidently rest upon no matter what our circumstance. It is a gift from God to those who abide/remain in Him. It is ours to receive, but it is a choice. We can choose to rely on ourselves or accept the powerful gift of His joy. John 15:4, “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”
2 Corinthians 6:10, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.”
Life can be hard and we can be overwhelmed by the difficulties it brings us. Likewise, we can also get caught up in the good times, riding high on the fragile foundation of superficial successes. Both states of mind are precarious. It is the joy of the Lord that holds us fast. We need to stay focused on Him. Kay Warren’s definition of joy is, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be okay, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
This is why, during that time when Aaron was sick, while our world was being rocked on the surface, I was able to choose joy. Now, keep in mind, I had to choose it repeatedly. I would find myself struggling - focusing on the negative, losing hope and retreating back into fear and grief. But I was able to go back to Him in prayer, place it at His feet, and choose joy again. Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.”
I chose to believe in His promises.
Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
I chose to put my hope for my son’s future in Him.
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”
I chose to rest in His supernatural/miraculous peace. That defies explanation.
Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Proverbs 1:33, “But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”