“Experiencing joy as God intended does not mean we have a smile on our face at all times. This joy comes from deep within and is not based on external circumstances.”
We live in a world that can sometimes knock the joy right out of you. Staying joy-filled can be like trying to hang onto a football with a bunch of 250-pound guys whacking the ball out of your hands. And, this can be particularly true at Christmas. What we’re told should be the happiest time of the year can be for many a time of emotional struggle.
But the problem might be that we don’t fully understand what the Bible teaches about joy. The word is used in the announcement of Christ’s birth. In Luke, some shepherds were going about their ordinary work when an angel appeared with a life-changing message, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:9–11).
The Greek word for joy in Luke’s gospel is chara, meaning calm delight or inner gladness. It is related to the word charis which means grace. The shepherds and all people would receive great joy as the recipients of God’s gift, the birth of His Son, Jesus. And when we as believers experience joy, it is because we too are the recipients of God’s grace.
Experiencing joy as God intended does not mean we have a smile on our face at all times. This joy comes from deep within and is not based on external circumstances. Missionary James Hudson Taylor explained it like this: “Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change.” Jesus said that keeping His commands brings us joy: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
We can experience joy even when we face trials. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials” (James 1:2). We certainly aren’t happy when we walk through seasons of temptation or stress or sickness or loneliness. But we can endure all of these hardships with the firm and unwavering assurance that we are not alone. Jesus is our constant companion, our very present joy, even when life gets tough. The joy of the LORD is our strength (Neh. 8:10).