What is joy, and how can we experience it? We know from Scripture that joy is something the Lord desires for us. Jesus says to His disciples in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” There is a fullness of joy that the Lord wants us to experience. He claims this joy as His own. It is “His” joy. It is a joy meant to be experienced in a relationship with Him.
Biblical joy is a feeling of delight that is dependent on who Jesus is and what He has done for us through the Gospel. Jesus wants us to experience a fullness of delight rooted in the eternal, steadfast love of the Lord. But we don’t always feel that, do we? There are times when we feel grief, anger, shame, sorrow, etc. Where does joy belong when my heart is captivated by other more negative emotions?
Joy and negative emotions can exist simultaneously. Joy is called a “supra-emotion” in that it can connect with other emotions. Joy finds its rightful place in Christ-followers who “encounter various trials” (James 1:2). You may not feel the same delight as when you are at your happiest, but you can feel the good pleasure of being present with the Lord as He is present with you in the midst of those negative emotions.
Psalm 16:11 says, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Joy does not exist outside of a relationship with God. He designed us to experience joy with Him and His people. If I can prompt you to do anything this month, it would be to meditate on the following: Picture Jesus sitting next to you, yet facing you. His eyebrows are raised. His eyes are wide open and focused.
His mouth rises to form a smile. You know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is happy to be with you. You know just what it means to be blessed as “the Lord make[s] His face shine on you” (Numbers 6:25). Time spent with the Father is never wasted. He is our joy in the storm of life.