“Let joy be your continual feast.Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (TPT). 

How often do you experience the joy of the Lord? When the Bible talks about the joy of the Lord being my strength, I have a hard time relating to it. I think a lot of it has to do with my circumstances. I struggle with finding joy in the negative. My rose colored glasses often have a grey tinge to them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to experience the joy of the Lord that He wants me to experience. As David said in Psalm 43:4: “There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!” David said that God was his exceeding joy and I want the same thing.  

First, we need to understand what the joy of the Lord is, and what it is not. The joy of the Lord is not primarily a feeling of happiness.  It’s not the warm fuzzy feeling you get when watching a sunset on the Gulf Coast. It’s more than a feeling. A feeling will not get you through life’s negative circumstances. No, the joy of the Lord is much more sturdy and unbreakable.

Ultimately, this joy comes from Jesus himself. I experience the joy of the Lord specifically because I am united to Jesus Christ. John Piper had this to say on the subject: “The reason your joy can now be as full as it is and moving toward perfect fullness when all our battle with sin is over is because in union with me, the branch in the vine, you no longer enjoy merely your joy. You now have my joy in you and you enjoy what I enjoy as your joy, as you abide in me.” 

The joy of the Lord is the firm, unshakeable belief that God loves me and the unbendable belief is working everything for my good. So again, how do I experience and grow in the joy of the Lord? First we experience the joy of the Lord through prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to Jesus. When I come to the throne of grace, I am filled with the joy of the Lord that is my strength. We also experience the joy of the Lord through scripture. If I want to be able to say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” then I need to go to the fountain where that joy is found. I need to immerse myself in God’s word. To drink deeply of it and savor the fellowship with God I experience through it.

And finally we experience the joy of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the one who reveals Christ to us. The Spirit opens our eyes so that we can comprehend the glorious things to which we’ve been called. And when the Spirit opens our eyes, we truly are filled with the overwhelming joy of the Lord. How can we not be bursting with joy when we’re filled with all the fullness of God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When people say that God has a wonderful plan for their lives, what do they usually mean?
  2. What can we do this week to trust and accept God’s plan for the future?