“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy…” Isaiah 35:1 -2a
“Then will the eyes of the4 blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:5-6
We are in the third week of Advent and the theme throughout this week is “Joy.” Joy can be a tricky subject to talk about. Our news is filled with stories of rape, murder, war, corruption, that finding joy seems impossible. And yet throughout scripture we are taught that we can be filled with joy in all circumstances. It is hard not to question that idea.
Maybe the problem is how we think about and define joy. I looked up dictionary.com’s definition of joy and found the following: “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” I would say that most of us would agree with how they defined the word joy. It is something that seems to be connected to the circumstances in our life. When everything is going well, we can experience joy.
But then there is scripture telling us that we can have joy in all things. Really? I began looking up ways scripture defines joy and found this on the Compassion International website. I like what they wrote:
“The true definition of Joy goes beyond the limited explanation presented in a dictionary – “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” True joy is a limitless, life-defining, transformative reservoir waiting to be tapped into. It requires the utmost surrender and , life live, is a choice to be made. Joy is not simply a feeling that happens.”
Joy is something we choose AND it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Joy comes from God’s Holy Spirit, and we need to choose to accept all those gifts into our life. In its truest form, joy transforms difficult times into blessings and turns heartache into gratitude. It is through joy that we find meaning in life. When we choose joy, we also choose hope. Above all else, it is important that we remember: Joy is not a feeling or an emotion according to scripture. Scripture points us to the deeper truths in life in all things but I believe it is especially true of the word joy. Because when we strip the scriptural definition away, we are left with a pathetic and anemic definition of joy.
My prayer for you all this season is that you are able to find true joy. Joy that will sustain you and lift you up in all circumstances.