Depending upon how you count them, there could be upwards of 50 passages in the bible centered on or around having joy. Maybe even more. If I were to ask you which of those passages comes to mind first, some of you might easily say:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Romans 12:12 4
A second one that may come up in conversation is:
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
And then the grumbling begins.
How in the world are we supposed to rejoice always, and consider trials as joy? I mean, truth for us be told, isn’t that nearly impossible? When our babies cry because there is no formula on the grocery shelves and we’re struggling for answers and grieve as we try to comfort them. When our job involves driving long distances and we feel the pain at the pump as gas prices eat into any profit margin we might have had. When we were already living from paycheck to paycheck and over the last winter have had to make choices between groceries and heat or paying rent. Where life happens, sometimes there just doesn’t seem any room left over for even tears, let alone joy.
On the surface, verses like these can seem unauthentic, unattainable, and unrealistic. What gives? What gives is worth having a deeper look! The moment we say yes to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are called out of darkness into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), from death to life (Ephesians 2:1-10), and having now broken out of our chrysalis, we are transformed into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). What this means is that although our bodies and this life are temporary, we ourselves live eternally (2 Corinthians 4:18) because Jesus has just taken up residence within us (Romans 8:10)!
Who is this Jesus? Just to name a few… He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); He is our provider (Matthew 6:25-34); He is our healer (Exodus 15:26); He is a mighty warrior (Zephaniah 3:17); He is a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6); He is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:15); He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8); He is the creator and sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:15-17); He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2); He takes away our sin (John 1:29) and is our Redeemer (Ephesians 1:7); and He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-4).
Knowing all of that, now picture this: all He is, He is within us! In the moment of your personal salvation when He took up residence within you, He brought His world, His Kingdom with Him. Although His Kingdom is in the invisible realm, it is very real, nonetheless. Wherever you are, there is He and there is His Kingdom! Grasping this concept may challenge us to think differently about what we see and experience in this life, because otherwise we’ll think what we see in the natural is more superior than the Kingdom He brought with Him in the supernatural. It is not!
Consider the following verses that also speak about joy:
Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:4-5
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
What I noticed about both of these verses was that the JOY was not happening in that moment, but it was what followed a sorrow that was temporary.
Be encouraged. God is real. God is living. God hears and God speaks. There is purpose and meaning to this life, and it is found in Him, and He is inviting you to come and enjoy the pleasure of His company.