Photo Credit: Tony McClure

We all want it, but what does it really mean? Joy, that is. Real joy. It’s an easy one, right? We probably don’t even have to Google it. It is simply a heightened state of happiness. Webster defines it as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” That sounds pretty awesome, right?

So what happens when we don’t get what we desire, or worse, we lose the prospect of possessing what we desire? Does that mean we can’t have joy? Hmmm…

I’ve got some good news. The answer is no! We can absolutely have joy, no matter the circumstance. You may be thinking, now how does that work? I’m glad you asked. 🙂

I’m grateful that I have access to joy at any time and in any place because the source of my joy is rooted in the one who created it. He is always near, and present. And in His presence is the fullness of that joy.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV

Some reading this may say ok that sounds really cute and spiritual and all, but how does that play out in real life? When I’ve lost someone or something dear to me, or when I’m exhausted and weighed down by the cares of life, how do I experience joy?

I believed it’s wrapped in the promises that God has given us. But the truth is, if we don’t really know Him or His word, how can we find true joy in who He is and these promises He offers? He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, He will strengthen us, He will comfort us and bring us peace, and most importantly, if we believe in Him He’s offered us the greatest promise there is – salvation.

Am I saying that those who intimately know Him and His promises never experience sadness or disappointment or anger or frustration? No, everyone feels those things at some point in their lives, if they live long enough. The good news is that when we feel those things, we can be comforted by the joy that is found deep in our souls from believing in and knowing Him. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV

That’s the type of joy that I need and want. Not the circumstantial joy that the world offers. No, I want the joy that’s found in the comfort of the Lord. 

Five years ago I had an aha moment regarding joy that I often return to when I find myself slipping to a low place. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it called “A Lesson in Joy.” As I was preparing that post, I came across a definition of joy that speaks to the heart of God’s intention. The definition of joy offered by Theopedia (think Wikipedia for Christianity) states “joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is the settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.” 

That joy is not dependent upon my circumstances or the fickleness of my emotions or feelings. It’s the joy that comes from the Lord that lifts me when life feels heavy. It’s the joy of the Lord that comforts me when my anxious thoughts get the best of me. It’s the joy that is embedded in my heart, mind, and soul by the Holy Spirit that brings me peace that surpasses all understanding.

It’s the joy for me.