Joy is mentioned hundreds of times within the pages of the Bible, and with most of those mentions, there is battle. Maybe not a full out war, but the struggle is definitely real. But where does joy come from? How do you take yourself from a place of woe to a place of “consider it all joy”? How do you find pure, genuine happiness? Pause for pondering silence… aaand that’s where I messed up. Joy is not a product of happiness. Read that again. Joy does not come from happiness. If it did, it would be circumstantial and circumstances change.
What is going on here?
Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), which means it kicks in when we are weak. 2 Corinthians 6:10 says “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. Wait, I can be sad and have joy? Well, the Bible says you can, so it must be true! I love John chapter 16 and how it relates to sorrow and joy.
The Lord’s time on earth is nearing the end. The disciples cannot comprehend what is about to happen to them. The Lord is trying to give them a heads up to what they are about to experience, but they just don’t get it. I imagine them standing there confused, shaking their heads in acknowledgement, looking at one another with a slight shrug, and continuing to agree. It’s as if they are agreeing because they trust Him not because they actually understand the words coming out of His mouth. “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’ What does he mean by ‘a little while’?” John 16:16-18. In modern terms, what is going on here?
The Lord, with all his patience and love and because He literally knows all our thoughts, knew they were struggling to figure this one out, so he throws another parable at them, because well, parables make sense. He likens their impending emotions to a woman giving birth to a child. He tells them, in the moment there will be so much pain and anguish they will hardly be able to stand it, but when it’s all over and the travail has ended, they will have something so beautiful they won’t be able to contain the joy it brings. Then He ends with this, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Mic Drop.
Rejoice when it comes easy, fight when it doesn’t.
He overcame it all, no matter what it is, He overcame ALL OF IT. He left us the promise of the comforter, which we know from John 14:26 that the comforter is the Holy Ghost, the spirit of God living in our hearts. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that joy is a fruit of His spirit, that it is something we produce when His spirit is inside us. Makes me realize all the searching I have done to “find joy” was so unnecessary.
Think of it as a seed that has been planted; a promise that comes in it’s perfect season. We can have joy even when we’re not in our happy place. Remember, happiness is fickle. We cannot depend on it. But joy! Joy is with us through the bad. We may not see it or feel it, but it’s there, waiting on the other side of the pain. I encourage you to put feelings aside and seek joy every single day. Rejoice when it comes easily and fight for it when it doesn’t. Find joy and cling to it.