Joy can be defined as profound happiness or delight. God's word talks quite a bit about joy. There are passages which talk about having joy in the Lord or directed to God. Other areas refer to the joy that other believers bring to the writer. Still others encourage us to be joyful in the midst of trying circumstances or difficulties. Throughout the New Testament, the writers refer to the followers of Christ as markedly full of love, life, peace, and joy. We would be wise to pursue the state of being joyful, as it leads to increases in gratitude, peacefulness, and love for others.
Psalm 37:4 is a well-known verse that instructs the righteous to delight themselves in the Lord, with the reward being that God will bestow upon them the desires of their hearts. Many preachers and teachers have interpreted the end of this verse in different ways. Some say that it means you can have whatever whim of desire crosses your mind if you are happy in the Lord. Others contend that the verse means that delighting in the Lord will align your desires with God's desires, allowing you to walk in His will more fully. Most pastors practically skip over the condition of the verse in the attempt to expound on the second half. The first part of verse four says to "delight yourself." In other words, you have to make a conscious choice to find the joy of the Lord, marvel at His goodness, and spend time with Him.
That delight or joy in God will transform believers from the inside out. This enables us to bring joy (rather than frustration) to other people. The churches which are full of people finding joy in the presence of other believers are few and far between these days. We can start a joy revolution by seeking to bring smiles to the faces of those people we meet each day. We can be an encouragement rather than a trial to be overcome.
There are trials to be overcome in life, to be sure. Tragedies occur. Jobs can be frustrating. Sicknesses can be exhausting and debilitating. People can betray or hurt others. Getting past the disheartening emotions to a state of joy in the midst of a problem or stress requires total dependence on the Lord. By bringing all our concerns to Him, we can find the joy that only He can give. The process makes a full circle. We lay our burdens at His feet, delight in His love for us, and bring more joy to the world.
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