What exactly is joy? What does it look like? When most of us think of a joyful person, we think of someone with a Pollyanna attitude who no matter what the circumstance seems to always be smiling and in a good mood. Yes, the kind of person most of us want to punch in the face and yell, “Get a clue! My life is difficult.”
The word for joy in the Greek is ‘chara’ and it means a calm delight. Joy is not happiness as happiness will ebb and flow with our circumstances. But ‘joy’ is much more profound. Joy is the ability to see God in ALL of our circumstances. It is the ability to see Him in the storm and in the calm. It’s recognizing He is working everything for my good regardless if I am experiencing times of abundance or times of lack, times of sorrow or times of celebration, times of sickness or times of health, times of death or times of life. Joy is knowing whether good times or bad times, God is here with me. Therefore, joy is ultimately grounded and rooted in this one truth, “God is good.”
The Apostle Paul exemplified this truth. Unfairly imprisoned, Paul writes to the church of Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NKJV) Paul preached joy. He used some form of the word ‘joy’ over 60 times in his letters. Paul admonishes us to:
- Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2)
- Remember that the kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)
- Believe that the God of hope will fill us with joy (Romans 15:13)
- Be exceedingly joyful even as there may be conflict among brothers (2 Corinthians 7:4)
- Remember that even in our sorrow, we are always rejoicing. (II Corinthians 6:10)
But Paul did not just preach joy, he lived it. In Acts 16, we find Paul going to pray and a young slave girl is following him proclaiming, “These men are the servants of the Most High God who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Paul became annoyed (yes, you can have joy and still be annoyed) and cast out the spirit of divination. Because of this, Paul and Silas were severely beaten and thrown into prison. While in prison, they did not lament their fate, or rally against the unjust government. No, Paul and Silas rejoiced. In the midst of excruciating pain, unfair treatment, hunger, and shackles, Paul and Silas meditated on and praise God for his goodness. In the midst of their adverse circumstance Paul and Silas chose joy. As a result of choosing joy, the presence of God filled the jail, the prisoner’s chains were broken, and a jailer and his family were saved. That is the power of Joy!
Your joy is powerful. Your joy can break the chains of oppression. Your joy will change the atmosphere. Your joy will issue the presence of God into your circumstance so that not only are your chains broken but those around you will experience freedom as well. People will desire the joy you possess and it will propel them into their destiny in Christ. Joy is powerful! Joy is yours!