“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).
Joy. It’s a short but powerful word. There are many moments of joy in our life. For many, it might be the moment of their marriage or the birth of a child. But joy is more than a moment. It is more than circumstances.
John Piper gives one of the best definitions of joy for Christians: “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Rick Warren adds his own definition: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Joy is a feeling, yes. But it’s also a confident abiding in Jesus Christ. It’s knowing that all of our life derives from Him. But it is also the future expectation that everything is going to be okay because of Him no matter our circumstances. Throughout the Old Testament, God calls His people to joyfulness. “Then you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.” (Deuteronomy 26:11) When we take time to reflect on what God has done for us and offer Him our very best—in time, effort, skills, gifts—the inevitable response in our hearts is joy.
Biblical joy is different than what most people think of as joy. It is not just a happy emotion that we either feel or don’t feel, it is a state of being that finds its source in God. God’s people had joy because they anticipated a time when the promised Messiah would come and “those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.. (Isaiah 35:10).
Today, our joy is anchored in the knowledge that God fulfilled His promise. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:10-11).
It is important to remember that the joy we have in Christ is not seasonal or situational. Our joy is a response to what God has already done and continues to do. It is a kind of joy, grounded in thankfulness for the birth of Jesus Christ and looking forward toward His second coming.
- What gives you joy this advent season?
- How can we make joy a part of our daily lives?