What is joy?
Like what is real, genuine, awesome joy?
This question I have been struggling with for quite some time now.
You would think it wouldn’t be that hard to figure it out. I mean, look around you! Everyone seems to be SO happy with their lives! Take Instagram for example. Literally EVERYONE seems to be posting about awesome things they are experiencing, their faces brimming with excitement. They HAVE to be experiencing joy, right?
WRONG. Joy isn’t something you experience on your own. It’s something you can only receive from God.
Let me say that again! You cannot produce joy on your own. The only way to experience the true definition of joy is by being connected to the Father.
Years ago I learned this the hard way: I was in college, delved completely into the party scene, and was carrying what seemed like the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was trying to please everyone, make friends, and not resort back to the “weird girl” phase I was so accustomed to finding myself in throughout gradeschool.
I was desperate to be joy-filled because I felt like I hadn’t been getting it from God. I grew up in the church, however I was naive to the fact that just because I spent my entire life memorizing verses and serving on missions trips doesn’t mean I had a strong faith. My roots were surface-level even though I interpreted my self-proclaimed “knowledge” as being so deep it was unshakable.
Unshakable. HA! says the Devil.
Sooner or later I began to realize that indulging in impure activities, surrounding myself with people who were less than great role models, and shoving my brain full of dirt were all substitute sources that ended up leaving me emptier than I was before. I pretty much had turned everywhere EXCEPT for heaven to find what I had been looking for, and to no avail.
That’s why I believe C.S. Lewis’ quote is so incredibly powerful:
Joy is the serious business of heaven.
He didn’t say joy was the serious business of loving yourself.
He didn’t say joy was the serious business of loving others.
He didn’t say joy was the serious business of consuming yourself in your job.
He said of heaven.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
~ Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Hope and joy are given together. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? When we are given hope in the midst of our circumstances, we immediately feel a wave of emotion that fills our lungs with laughter, our chest with breath, and our lives with that one thing we’ve been searching for endlessly: JOY.
So friends, this week as I reflect on how awesome beach-side yoga was a few weeks ago with new yet awesome friends, I will remember that although God delights in giving us wonderful things while we live out our days here on earth, and we are called to enjoy those miraculous gifts, we must also keep in mind that these fleeting things will never fill the void God purposefully put in our hearts for His glory. He draws us to Himself so that He and only He may fill us.
“And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life — this is indeed a gift from God.”
~ Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)
“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation — the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”
~ Philippians 1:11 (NLT)