Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
-Philippians 4:4

Joy. A small, three letter word, which is often overlooked or in turn overused but never fully understood. Joy is bigger than it seems. Joy is harder than it seems. Joy is far more amazing than it seems.

According to my good pal, Google, the definition of Joy is, “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Yes, Google, I agree with you. However, what Google fails to mention is that as Christians this feeling of “great pleasure and happiness” needs to be rooted in the Lord.

Joy Overlooked

Often people view the word “joy” or those who have joyful spirits as naive or innocent. It is easy to perceive joy on a surface level and think those who feel that level of happiness must be unaware of what is actually going on in the world, because there is no way they could genuinely feel that happy. But this is simply not true.

If you root yourself in the Lord and delight in Him and His love for you each day, despite all the hurt and sin going on in the world around you, then you are brave. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Joy is not easy. It takes a great deal  of courage to renounce the world each day and decide to not live with a negative mindset and instead find strength in the joy of the Lord. Joy is more than a feeling or a mindset, it is a focus.

It takes courage to believe God is enough and that no matter what craziness or hardships the day may bring, your faith will remain unwavering. When God has you in the palm of His hand, you can’t help but radiate His light from the inside out.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
-Philippians 4:10-12

The Bible never promises that we will be happy, but time and time again God’s word offers true joy. The early Christians were persecuted for their faith, and yet they still rejoiced in times of great sorrow and despair. Although society glorifies the idea that our goal in life should be to find “happiness”, our purpose is actually to work on fulfilling God’s calling for our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” When we are working to fulfill God’s calling for our lives we will then not only be more connected to God, but we will also be fulfilled with His joy.

Joy Overused

In today’s popular Christian culture, the word “joy” seems to be used in every other sentence. It is doing “joy” an injustice if we are failing to internalize all that it means. Happiness and joy tend to be used interchangeably. The difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is circumstantial and fleeting, whereas joy is a daily choice based on faith in God. Life is unpredictable and brings a great deal of hardship. Sometimes we are faced with changing family dynamics or frightening diagnosis. But, when you are grounded in joy it is still possible to find hope and peace in the midst of the pain because joy isn’t temporary, joy is eternal.

Joy is not a word to frivolously throw around. Joy is a delight and a light far beyond comprehension. Joy is the feeling of wonder you have when you think about how we have a God who sent His only son to die on the cross for us to take away our sins even though we do not deserve this gift. Joy is the realization you have when you are feeling left out or not enough and you remember that you have a father in Heaven who loves you despite your sins and imperfections, because He has made you perfectly in His image and longs for a relationship with you. Joy is stepping back and looking at all the blessings God has graciously placed in your life and asking yourself why you ever worried, because without fail God’s plan is far better than what you could’ve ever imagined. Joy is when you wake up in the morning and see the sun peeking out your window and remember all over again that God created the entire earth by hand…WOW! The list could go on forever, because the joy of the Lord is everlasting. Next time you find yourself using the word joy in a conversation, text or Instagram post, make sure you are using it in a way that glorifies the Lord and the delight you get from rooting happiness in Him.

Joy. A complex, deeply felt, radiant word that is humbly strung together by only three letters. A word that is a gift to be able to root ourselves in, and that we are called to share with others. A word that represents an act of courage and the confidence you have in God’s perfect plan for your life. A word that is anything but frivolous or naïve. A word that is rooted in delighting in God. Joy. My favorite word. Maybe it will become your favorite word too.

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