I have been studying joy and what the Bible teaches about joy for a while now…:)
Did you know “joy” is a fruit of the Spirit? Yes, it comes from the Holy Spirit and the closer and more intimate your relationship with Jesus becomes, the more “fruit” you will have. Joy is mentioned second after the fruit of “love” in listing the “fruits of the spirit”. I have concluded that you cannot have the “joy” that the Holy Spirit gives before you have love. As I have intensely studied joy and the other fruits, I now believe that the list in the order in which it appears in Galatians 5:22-23 is very important in developing those same fruits Paul writes about. They are as follows: “But the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Often times I find that people equate joy with happiness…and that is just false. They are not the same. “Happiness” is an emotion and it can be fleeting. Usually happiness comes from positive circumstances but “Joy” is a fruit and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives even in the midst of “harsh circumstances.”
One of the things I dreaded toward the end of my mother’s life was knowing I was going to be with her when she breathed her last breath and then have to watch someone take her away. The woman whom we called the “Rock,” the sweet Mom who always listened always, who nurtured me, who loved me unconditionally, whom I talked to every day of my life…would be taken away.
Over the time that she was sick and dying I was encouraged in counseling to strengthen my walk with God by spending long periods of time with Him…even if that meant less sleep…or less recreation. The key to having a sustaining “joy” in horrible circumstances was a more intimate and DEEP relationship with Jesus.
“I dug in!” I will call it “marinating in Jesus”. Soaking myself in God’s word, prayer, worship, and being “still.” Strengthening my “Vine connection!” Best advice I have ever been given. Because in the moment I feared the most…I experienced immense sadness but also a DEEP and SUSTAINING JOY. A washing over me of the Holy Spirit’s power.
The fruit I had nurtured, fertilized and watered for over two years was “ripe” and tasted very sweet…in the most devastating circumstances. You see, I had love for my mom but I also had a “LOVE” for Jesus that manifested a “joy” in knowing His ways and His timing is perfect. That He had me and He had our family and most of all, He received my mother into His ever-loving arms. Her death became about Jesus…and His love…for all of us…not our loss…but Her gain.
I encourage you with this…joy is a fruit. In order to have it, you have to nurture the “vine connection” to Jesus. It is from that connection, when strengthened, you find the “current” of joy can be flooded in your heart and mind…and pour out into your life.
No matter the “circumstance,” immense joy can be experienced in deep sadness. I can testify to it. It is the sustainer through the “emotion” of sadness. It really is true what is found in Scripture which Nehemiah writes about in Nehemiah 8:10, “…Do not sorrow, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength” [emphasis added]. YOU can increase your strength today by increasing your TIME with the Lord…it is there where the fruit of “JOY” grows.