This blog post was first written on the 24th of January this year. All of the posts to follow are much more recent and soon enough, I’ll be deleting my old blog in favour of this, and my writing shall be moving into more original posts and ideas.
Back in January, I had attended a conference for youth and young adults which has proven to be a phenomenal time of learning, encouragement and experience and has also proven to be an experience of great joy. As I have reflected back, not only on the good times but also on experiences which have proven to be challenging, I can’t help look at my experience of joy and be amazed.
Quite a while ago, I wrote a blog post called “The Pursuit of Pleasure“, the entire point being that our pleasure is totally dependent and sufficiently fulfilled in Christ. Examining joy more closely, I am becoming more and more convinced that joy as an emotion is dependent and also sufficiently fulfilled in Christ.
With all this in mind, it would seem that our happiness and our joy are based on similar things. As is my way, here are some basic definitions (from the Merriam-Webster) to place distinction between the two:
Happy: “feeling pleasure or enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.”
Joy: “a feeling of great happiness”
The difference between the two is that happiness is defined by our circumstance. Joy is a feeling of great happiness which, according to our definition (or lack thereof), is without definition of circumstance.
We all know that trials do come and if they haven’t already, they will come. We all know that our circumstances change and change quickly. We know that as humans challenges can come on a yearly basis and life can get really hard. We need a strong foundation to base our joy on.
The doctor says “Cancer”.
Your home burns down
Those words: “There’s nothing we could have done”
Loss of a child, mother, father, brother, sister.
When it comes down to it, in our humanity we should be actively seeking out and praying for our joy – happiness is great, but it won’t sustain us, it won’t fulfill us and it definitely won’t preserve us when the trials do come. The pursuit of pleasure means that in our pursuit of joy we are pursuing Him who grants us with all the joy that we will ever need.
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time you will just about know Galatians 5 like the back of your hand. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
A part of the fruit of the Spirit, part of what the Spirit works in our character is for us to be people of joy. He changes our hearts to be more joyful and when faced with circumstances that ruin our happiness, we are still filled to the brim with happiness because God is the sustainer, fulfiller and preserver of our lives.
Over the last couple of days at the conference, I had seen the Spirit move in ways amongst people that deeply challenge my thoughts on the supernatural. I have seen our youth ask questions and experience God anew. I have experienced God afresh and am totally revitalised for everything to come this year. My experience these last couple of days has been one of absolute joy.
The bible tells us in James 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” I don’t know about you but when I meet trials of various kinds, my last response would be to “count it all joy”.
My hope for all of us is that we would seek joy for our good. For our strength. Through trial and tribulation, through the good and the bad. Our pursuit of joy, when centred wholly on God, will allow us to all the more effectively glorify Him when we find ourselves deep in the valley.
Because joy is better then the cheap subsidy that won’t sustain, fulfil or preserve us when the trials do come.