Is joy the same as happiness or contentment? What is Joy and do you have joy? Where does it come from? Can we have joy in difficult times?

I love people. There. The secrets out. I just love people.
I really enjoy having one on one time with people. I love to see where they are at in their walk with God. If I can sit down with someone and find out where they are in their faith, I walk away blessed, and encouraged.

But what’s the real reason behind this joy that I find?
I’ll answer that yet. :)

I’m a pretty happy girl if I can take a drive to good ole Tim Hortons, or if I can have a relatively clean house, or if my children are having a good day, but that happiness is not lasting once the children start crying all on the same day or even the same hour. Once the house needs to be cleaned again (or you find out that there’s another whole area of the house that you didn’t get to), that happiness is soon turned to unhappiness. Don’t even get me started on if I can’t make it out to Tim Hortons (just kidding, I’m not addicted really).

Or what about when all your ideas of what God might have in this life for you are crushed, unfulfilled, or just seems impossible? Does the joy you once experienced disappear? Suffering is just plain hard. And its happening all around us. I mean, I don’t usually put Joy in the same sentence as suffering… Not like Jesus experienced:

Hebrews 12:2 "…Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, …"

Jesus here is our example as to how we are to respond to suffering.
I can’t tell you that I find joy in the fact that my 7 (almost 8) year old daughter does not speak at all, not a word; or that she battles with seizures on the daily basis; or that we can’t do what most families are able to do with their children; or that what used to be simple things are now difficult.
I just can’t say that’s where I find joy…Nope not there.

What about when Satan, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy... John 10:10a? Because we all know that he wouldn’t want us to be joyful, and that we have a hard time shining for Jesus if our joy is taken away.  The rest of that verse says: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
Abundantly… sounds like joy to me. (It’s kinda hard for me to imagine, someone who is living an Abundant life that doesn’t show joy.) This is a glimpse of where we can receive joy.

What about when God’s crown creation is not doing what they are created to do and you are burdened for what hurts the heart of God? Where is joy when you are grieving for the very things that grieve God?

BUT God…
A rather fascinating study that you can do on those 2 words, but that’s a side note and encouragement
To do it sometime :).

God is where we find our lasting joy.
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart faileth: BUT GOD is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
When all is overwhelming and discouraging and going wrong in your life (as it seems to you), there is always a “BUT GOD…” that we need to look to. The lover of our soul (John 3:16); the One who Created us; The One who pursues us, even AS we are running away from Him; the One who wants to redeem us To Himself and went to great lengths to do it:
John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

God is where we find our lasting joy.

Do you turn to Him when things are tough? Do you run to Him when you are hurting or when you have cautions about something in your life? Do you go to Him as a Child would do to the Father and share with Him your deepest desires and thoughts? When we have this type of relationship with Jesus, we can then also receive joy from Him and thus receive the strength to keep going.
I asked myself, and others the question, that because God sees all that goes on in this world and sees man’s Heart and He knows it’s continually evil (Genesis 6:5 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”). Is God even joyful?

How can He be if He hurts and aches and sees all forms of wickedness?
A very special friend of mine quoted Nehemiah 8:10 “…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” reminding me that indeed God does have joy and He longs for us to have it and use it as our strength. He knew we would need it. So again, God is where we find our lasting joy.

Now, there is another area where we can find joy in and that is when we are doing what God has Created us to do. A bird can sing beautifully because a bird does what its created to do.  When a baby bird is born they don’t come with a manual as to how they should live or what they should do. They just do what they are created to do. Us, on the other hand need instructions :).
God gave us His Word primarily for us to get to know Him, but also as instructions for us to live. He gave us clear instructions. We ask the questions, what can we really do for Jesus? I'm not like so and so, I can’t do things like they can. I have so many small children that take up my energy and time, when do I really have time to do what God would want me to do?
God tells us in Titus 2:1-5  
"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
 "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
 "To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

We do this by example and when given the opportunity to speak, speak it.

This is the other area where we can find joy, with God still as the author of it:
3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

When we live as God has designed us to live, We will have joy.

Back to my love for people… I love hearing when others are sharing with me about their walk with God and in truth. It excites me, it encourages me and it spurs my walk with God to be closer.
When one of our little children say something like “I cant wait to go to heaven” or “Oh I know exactly what I’m going to pray about today” or “This is the best day ever. The only thing that would make it perfect, is if Jesus came back today” I find joy in that. Or when I see someone and they are living out the gospel of Jesus, I find joy in that. It brings me so much joy when I hear of someone walking with Jesus.

When I was a youth leader, although I didn’t feel older than the youth, I saw them as my spiritual children, and I would be so encouraged when they were growing in the Lord and listening to what God was saying and responding in obedience. I guess that’s one reason why I still love seeing where people are at in their walk with God. Is that selfish of me? Can’t be, right? Well either way, ultimately…

What’s the real reason behind this joy that I find?

Kathy Thiessen
Lighthouse Gospel Church

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