Joy. What is it and how can someone be joyful all the time, when life’s horrible awful in the worst kinda way?
I get it and better yet, God gets it.
His guidebook for life, the Bible, has the answers to what Christian joy is and how to find joy during really difficult times.
Using Mary, Jesus’ mother, we’ll answer those questions and explore what the Bible says about finding joy in the Lord…even when life is super duper hard.
If you’re going through tough season right now,
Download your How to Have Joy Bible Study Guide here so you can spend time with God answering the questions in today’s post.
What is Christian Joy?
As a Christian we’re commanded to be joyful always.
Being joyful all the time sounds impossible considering all life throws our way. I get it. First, I want to clear something up.
Christian joy isn’t about being “happy, happy, happy” all the time. It also doesn’t mean you avoid other emotions.
Sorrow, pain, anger, sadness, fear, disgust, and happiness were given to you by God, for very specific reasons.
So what does Christian joy look like?
Christian joy isn’t something you make happen and it’s not an emotion or feeling you turn on or off.
It’s 100% Holy Spirit dependent.
Because of His power, working through you, you can see the beauty of Christ in the world and in God’s Word.
But…(there’s always a but isn’t there)
Joy is something we’re commanded to have and not just sometimes. Yup, in Philippians 4:4 we’re commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about joy and then explore how it’s possible to be joyful all the time. To do this, I’m going to weave Mary’s story in as we discover how to be joyful in difficult times.
Did you grab your Bible study guide yet? It’s here: How to Have Joy Bible Study Guide
Whats the Bible Say?
The most repeated command in the Bible is to be joyful (or some word variation of joy). And as a Christian, your joy is dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power working through you.
To this end, Romans 15:13 says: “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.”
Notice that joy is part of an emotional trio – joy, peace, and hope.
Last week we talked about the hope Mary had and how you can have hope, despite everything around you seeming hopeless (you can find it here). Mary trusted God and because of this, had unshakeable hope.
Further, what the Bible tells us about joy is also dependent on our trust in God.
When you trust fully in God and place your hope in Him alone, then and only then will you be able to fulfill the command to be “joyful”.
In some inexplicable way, Mary got this. Despite her age and circumstances, she had the joy each of us should have.
Life’s difficulties should never erase your joy. Joy should be part of your unshakable foundation of trust in God.
The big question remains though…how to find that joy.
How to Find Joy During Difficult Times
Before I weave Mary’s story into our Bible study on joy, I want to share a bit of my story with you.
Every single day I live with miserable pain and fight unpredictable, often life-threatening, blood sugars. None of these things are my fault and ever since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’ve done my best to do everything right.
But despite my best efforts, God allowed me to develop nerve damage that prevents me from recognizing low blood sugars. God did bless me with an amazing service dog, Jazz, who dutifully alerts me when low or high blood sugars are about to happen.
Being joyful when you hurt, are tired all the time, and your body just wants to quit is hard. And while my struggles don’t look anything like yours…we all have our own batch of joy deflating problems.
Jesus’ mother, Mary had her own batch of potentially (keyword) joyless problems but she chose joy. Just like Mary, I also choose joy.
I pray that as we look at Mary’s story and how to find joy, that your mourning, struggles, and problems all get securely wrapped in rejoicing.
A Foundation of Trust
The moment the angel told Mary about the baby God was going to impregnate her with, she trusted God. Her reply to the angel was “I am the Lord’s servant.” Mary continued by saying, “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38
She trusted what God said and trusted that the impossible would happen.
The Bible is full of things God says will happen and just as Mary trusted, you and I are to trust.
You’re able to fix your eyes when you spend time studying God’s Word. This is how we get to know who God is, the promises He’s made, and the instructions He’s given. We’ve written about that here and here.
When you spend time getting to know God, you’re able to fully trust Him and you begin establishing your life on His promises. Through this, your emotions and feelings are then metered by the trust you have in the Lord.
- On a scale of 1-10, how much do you trust God?
- What’s happened in your life to test your ability to trust God?
- How has He shown Himself trustworthy and a keeper of His promises?
- Do you experience joy despite difficult circumstances?
- Why or why not?
Joy in the Lord is an emotion that’s grounded in your trust in God and is the spring from which all other joy flows.
Where True Joy Comes From
Joy comes from trusting in the Lord but…is it something we make happen? Are you supposed to flip a switch each day to make yourself joyful?
Nope, nope, nope!
Jesus left us the most amazing gift ever when He returned to His heavenly throne, the Holy Spirit. He did this so we’d have the Spirit of God with us at all times. This is the key to Christian joy.
Our joy is in the Lord and the Lord is in us.
This isn’t a sometimes occurrence. It’s an all the time thing.
It was the Holy Spirit who gave Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, words of blessing for Mary that caused her to sing a song of praise and rejoicing to the Lord. Her opening words were, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. Luke 1:46b-47
Your soul is what the Holy Spirit fills with joy.
Galatians 5:22-23 says that joy is “the fruit of the Spirit”. It’s not something you make happen. It’s something the Spirit of God, who lives inside of you, brings to fruition.
The Holy Spirit is also the “Lord in us” I mentioned above.
- Do you feel like the Holy Spirit fills you with joy?
- Why or why not?
- Knowing that He’s the one who makes you joyful, what would you like His help with?
As a Christian you’ll never lose the Holy Spirit and because of that, you’ll always have your source of joy.
Remember, having joy all the time doesn’t mean you can’t experience and express other emotions. Many circumstances in life demand sorrow, anger, or fear.
Now let’s explore how we can live out the command to always rejoice.
Rejoice in All Things
Emotions and feelings are things God gave us. He wants you to experience them while also experiencing joy.
And as Christians, we’ve gotta realize we can “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice” Philippians 4:4.
Constant, unshakeable joy should be a given in our lives as Christians.
Because joy in the Lord is what carries us onward despite life’s difficulties.
Because we trust in the Lord and the Spirit of God fills our souls with joy.
In the midst of trials the Holy Spirit allows us to see the things of God. When we’re able to see Christ and able to see all things from a heavenly perspective, joy ensues.
Think for a moment about God.
Think about all Jesus has done for you.
Think about the eternal home and new body you’re eagerly waiting for.
- What happens to your heart, mind, face, spirit, countenance, etc?
- Would you ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your trials and circumstances through God’s eyes?
- Ask Him to give you an eternal perspective and ask Him to help you rejoice?
When I look at the pain and struggles I get to deal with every single day, I can truly say I’m joyful. Not because I’m ignoring what I go through each day, but because
- I see God working in and through my pain.
- I see the beauty of Christs suffering through the lens of my own struggles.
- I recognize the Holy Spirit working through me, giving me strength for each day.
And best of all,
- Will you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the same?
Will you join me in trusting God and relying on the Holy Spirit to fill you with joy?
When you recognize that it’s the Holy Spirit who fills your soul with an always rejoicing joy, you’ll recognize a peace that surpasses all understanding begin to fill your heart and mind.
Mary, at the young age of 13, seemed to recognize and understand these things. I’m guessing it’ll be heaven before we ever understand the depth of her wisdom, but until that time, there’s much to learn from the young lady God chose as Jesus’ mother.
What an honor and privilege.
Guess what woman of God?
God has chosen you as well!
He has things He created you to do. Things He handpicked and custom created just you for.
Rejoice knowing “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Mary seemed to get this.
Because of that, she was able to rejoice knowing that no matter what hardship her pregnancy might cause, the Hope of the world was worth rejoicing and enduring whatever God had in-store.
- Will you fix your eyes on God and trust that your circumstances, your hardships, your trials, your everything are part of His perfect plan?
- Will you cling tightly to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help you bear joy fruit?
Rejoice, woman of God, and again I say, rejoice!
God has amazing things in store for you. He has things He created only you to do. Your trials are refining you.
Glitter like gold beautiful woman and rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
Until next time…
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4