I have spent a great deal of time on the sand of beaches as I am an avid beachgoer and fisherman. Watching kids play in the waves and tide pools is such a picture of joy. From the smile on their faces, to the laughter in the air, their delight and joy is simply undeniable.
What is joy? Is it happiness? Does it last? There is no doubt that every single one of us want joy. The joy this world offers us just does not seem to last. As we get older, the pressures, duties, responsibilities, and difficulties of life can seem to make joy more fleeting. It seems we have to run from one stimulus to another in order to keep feeling a sense of joy. Whether it is buying new stuff or planning a fun vacation, the joy these things offer is simply fleeting. It is as though they are nothing more than “passing pleasures.” The fact that this joy is so fleeting is because it is really nothing more than happiness.
But there is another joy available to us … real joy. It is not the same as happiness. It is a steadfast, durable joy not tied to our circumstances. It is tied to the person of Jesus Christ. It is an inner gladness that rest fully on the fact that God loves us, that He is in control, that He is working everything for our good, and that He has a future glory that awaits us. James, the brother of Jesus even tells us that we can count it pure joy when we face trials and test of many kinds. That is the mystery of real joy. It is not dependent on what is happening around us, but rather that Jesus’ joy is put in us. In John 15:11 Jesus tells the disciples …
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
Real joy comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ. But Jesus makes it clear how we are to have that joy in Him in the verses preceding John 15:11. He tells the disciples that they must abide in Him and He in them. In other words, if we want to experience real joy that lasts, complete joy, we cannot have that joy apart from a relationship with Jesus. We must also stay close in an abiding relationship with Jesus if we are to experience it and guard it. Jesus also tells the disciples that they are to obey the words He has spoken to them about loving others as He has loved them. We experience Jesus’ joy when we love others the way He loves us. His love is not dependent upon our love; He loves at all times.
If you want to experience a life of full joy not dependent on your circumstances, give your life to Jesus, obey His commands, and love others the way He loves you. And when you do, He promises to give us His joy in order to make ours complete.
When we have His joy, we can face anything the world throws at us, any difficult circumstance with an inner gladness that can exist in the midst of sorrow. Inner gladness that does not fade. Inner gladness knowing our Heavenly Father is in control, that He loves us, is with us, and has good in store for us. Find and guard your real joy in Jesus today!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.