I wallowed in my faulty mindset of feeling forgotten, of no value to anyone, etc. for nearly three years, and in time added to it, “so and so has stolen my joy” (something I have heard often in churches). I asked my Heavenly Father to show me anything I need to repent of or anything I am looking at incorrectly, thinking possibly that could be the reason my joy was MIA. He taught me this: it is wrong to let someone, or even the environment they create, to “steal” my joy of the Lord. Our joy of the Lord cannot be stolen unless we allow it. To say “so and so, or even the devil, stole my joy” is no more than a flimsy excuse we use to justify floundering in self-pity rather than putting forth the effort to reclaim our joy and treasure it as a gift from our Savior. (Ouch! That stung!) We are more than conquerors! Oh, how much easier that is said than done.
Remember the joy that Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NASB)? “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (In the KJV the intriguing phrase is translated as “joy unspeakable”.)
And way back in about 455 BC, Nehemiah used that same precept to teach the Israelites when they came back to resettle Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB) Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
But the Apostle Paul takes the cake! I recently studied Paul’s use of “joy” as he used it describing himself as a Drink Offering in Philippians 2:17-18 (NASB) “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.” Philippians 4:4 (NASB) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” And 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NASB) “Rejoice always;” At the time I thought, “He makes it sound like we should be able to whip up joy on demand...and I can’t!” Most assuredly, that is not what he meant.
Peter understood it. Nehemiah understood it. Paul understood it. And now I am beginning to understand that it spells out the very essence of truly being a child of God…the JOY of The LORD!
In the book of John we are told where our joy comes from in no uncertain terms when he writes, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11 (NASB)
The source of joy is Jesus. And the remarkable thing is that He literally gives us His joy, not a copy of it, not an imitation, or something like His, but the real thing - “so that my joy may be in you”. Also in the next chapter when Jesus is talking to His Father He says it again – “MY joy - “And now I come to Your presence, and these things I speak in the world that my joy may be full in them.” John 17:13 (AENT)
We are to rejoice in the Lord. He is the source of our joy.
John also tells us how we keep the joy Jesus gives us. “I am the real vine, and my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1 (CJB) and John 15:5 (CJB), “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with Me and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit:” …and joy! The stability of our joy rests in being “united” with Jesus because then all of the fruit of the Spirit can abound.
We all have times when our joy seems to slip away right through our fingers, but that doesn’t spell out our doom. Even David, the apple of God’s eye, endured times of missing joy as we see in Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation…” Jesus has that covered too. “Even now sadness is upon you, but again I will see you and your hearts will rejoice, and no man can take your joy from you.” John 16:22 (AENT) Therefore, it does not depend upon circumstances, because it is securely under God’s absolute control of all things.
Then our Messiah reminds us, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB) Long before Jesus spoke these things about joy that the Apostle John wrote for us, the recipe for the restoration of joy in real life, was written by the prophet Isaiah. “…generously offer food to the hungry
and meet the needs of the person in trouble; then your light will rise in the darkness, and your gloom become like noon. Adonai [the Lord] will always guide you; he will satisfy your needs in the desert, he will renew the strength in your limbs; so that you will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” Isaiah 58:10-11 (CJB)
One of the first things I ran across when I was reading everything I could find about losing my joy is the exhortation to realize the difference between joy and happiness. Joy is an action from God. Happiness is the reaction to an action. Joy is a deep inner rejoicing, promised to those who abide in Christ and obey His commandments. “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love — just as I have kept my Father’s commands and stay in his love. I have said this to you so that my joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” John 15:10-11 (CJB)
Joy is steadfast in sorrow - Isaiah 61:3 (KJV) “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Joy is triumphant in tribulation: John 16:33 (NASB) “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Joy is abundant in affliction: 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NASB) “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,”
Joy is lasting in losses: Hebrews 10:34 (NASB) “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.”
Joy comes because of our relationship with Jesus, and is the result of recognizing that God is good even in the midst of a trial, so that when the storms of life and the valleys of gloom come our way, we can still have joy. Joy sustains us during difficulties because we realize that though happiness may be nowhere to be found at times, the joy of the Lord is our strength. And since He is the giver of it…nobody can take it away. Joy is a positive mindset we cultivate and practice until it becomes a habit of the mind which finds its source in the Spirit of God.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NASB)