Joy is one of those words that Christians can toss around a lot.
We talk about having joy through trials, losing our joy, the enemy stealing our joy, and the joyful, abundant life we should be experiencing as we walk with Christ.
I can recall wondering, as a new Christian, how exactly I was supposed to feel joy when my life was turned upside down by a trial. Something horrendous would happen and I’d think, I’m not happy. I don’t feel like laughing. In fact, a good cry and a week in bed with a block of chocolate is the best way to deal with this.
I didn’t have a proper understanding of what joy really was. And the dictionary didn’t help.
Take, for example, what dictionary.com has to say about joy:
the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety; a state of happiness or felicity.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that definition to be particularly insightful. If anything, it reduces joy to an emotion that’s based on outward circumstances. And with this explanation, those outward circumstances have to be something exceptionally good or satisfying in order to produce this emotion of great delight or happiness.
When we hold up that definition to our every-day life, well, the trials that we go through are going to knock that kind of joy straight into the gutter.
Because life can be hard.
Life can be painful.
Life can be chaotic.
Sometimes life doesn’t appear be exceptionally good or satisfying.
If our joy is shallowly based on our outward circumstances, we’re going to experience many, many joy-less days.
And that’s not God’s purpose for us. Joy should be one of our hallmarks as Christians.
How do we experience joy? Are there lessons we can learn from the Bible to apply to our lives so we can have that wonderfully deep and unshakeable joy no matter what we’re going through?
I believe so.
And the book of Philippians is the perfect place to start.
I recently taught through Philippians on six Sunday mornings to discover Paul’s secret to his unfailing joy.
What I found encouraged me that I could experience the same joy as him. I didn’t have to wait for my circumstances to be perfect, and everything to be going great in order to live a joyful life. And to be honest, when are things going to be perfect anyway?
The sermon series is called “A Recipe for Joy” and I’m going to spend the next few weeks going over the various ingredients with an audio link at the bottom of each post to the message that corresponds with that particular topic. Each sermon is about 30 minutes long.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey, and that you’ll find some kernels of truth to strengthen your own pursuit of joy.