But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy…. Galatians 5:22
What is joy? How would you describe joy? Dictionary.com primarily defines joy as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” Beethoven wrote a symphony about it. The Apostle James described things differently, saying how we should consider it to be pure joy when we endure trials for the sake of our faith. Isaiah said (of those who the Lord rescues) “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” And Jesus Himself said that there will be more joy in heaven over one repenting sinner than over many who didn’t need to repent.
What is joy to you?
For me, it’s more than happiness. It’s the feeling of deep delight and satisfaction, of a contentment so great that I can’t contain it. I’ll be honest: I’ve known that feeling only a few times in life, but they’re all times that I identify with family. My three kids’ weddings; the day after my grandfather’s funeral when a bunch of us watched his old home movies; the days my kids and grandkids were born; my own wedding day. Just the other day, I was in the car with my wife, daughter, and two grandkids. We were joking about Emma wanting an orange cat with orange stripes, which she would name “Pumpkin.” I joked that her brother would then want a gray cat with gray stripes that he’d name “Zucchini” and the kids laughed uncontrollably for a long time after. No, it wasn’t a particularly funny joke. But it was joyous to hear them giggle and laugh.
And then there was a Christmas morning in Montana when it was snowing outside, we were playing Christmas music, the kids were enjoying themselves; we even saw deer in the yard. It seemed picture-perfect, and I felt such joy at the end of a really long and tough year.
But one of the moments when I recollect the most joy was the night my father died. That sounds strange, I know, but our pastor came over to do a short Bible reading with us, and he read from Romans 8; “more than conquerors.” When he read those words, I was overcome with joy, with such deep emotion and feeling, for the first time truly understanding that every word he read was completely true. That Jesus is who He says He is, and that He’d freed my Dad from pain.
When I think of joy, I think of family and Jesus, because Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection made our adoption into God’s family complete. When you know that Jesus is pure love, it becomes easy to see how everything about him is also joy.
For further reading: Luke 15:7, James 1:2-3, Galatians 5:22-23
Jesus, I associate joy with You.
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