Where Has Our Joy Gone?

Joy CC.png

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay!  And I’m so happy, so very happy, I’ve got the joy of Jesus in my heart!  And I’m so happy, so very happy, I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart!

If you grew up in Sunday School, that song might make you feel a little nostalgic.  It certainly makes me feel that way as I’m listening to it while typing this.  I might be wrong on this one, but the verse it sounds most similar to is Psalm 4:7, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

So what is joy?  Oxford defines joy as, “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”.  That is actually quite close to the original Hebrew word, which could mean exceeding joy, pleasure, or happiness, among other things.  It might seem weird to sing that song now.

I’ve got the pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, pleasure down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart.  I’ve got the pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, pleasure down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay!  And I’m so happy, so very happy, I’ve got the pleasure of Jesus in my heart!  And I’m so happy, so very happy, I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart!

In Psalm 16:11, the word joy is equated with a more blatant word for pleasure: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  The more blatant word is less common in Scripture and is used by Solomon’s lover in Song of Songs 1:16 to describe Solomon.

This completely dispels the myth that Christians are to be frozen stiffs who merely rely on intellect.  Our joy is in God!  Our happiness is in God!  Our pleasure is in God!  And if the Source of our joy never changes, then our joy shall never cease unless we reject the Source.  I’m not saying that you won’t have rough days, in fact we will discuss the emotion of sorrow tomorrow.  What I am saying is that our joy does not have to waver, because God is still its Ultimate Source.

The Negative

Just as with all emotions, joy can be perverted.  Joy is perverted when we seek it outside of God and His will.  The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah sought joy and pleasure outside of God’s plan.  The result was the degeneration of their society and ultimately the judgment of God.  Samson sought joy and pleasure outside of God’s plan, and he suffered dearly because of it.  David sought joy and pleasure through a woman who wasn’t his, and the rest of the story is history.

When we seek our ultimate joy outside of God, we actually commit idolatry.  If God is the source of all joy, why do we seek it in other things?  For more on that, click here.

The Positive

As you may have noticed from the introduction, I want to focus on the positive side of joy.  After all, joy is usually considered a positive emotion.  We’ve already seen where our joy is (Psalm 16:11) and where our joy is placed (Psalm 4:7), but how are we to express our joy?

Throughout the Old Testament, joy is commonly associated with music.  For example:

And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.
-1 Kings 1:40
David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.
-1 Chronicles 15:16
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
-1 Chronicles 16:33
The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me,
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
-Job 29:13
…when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
-Job 38:7
That’s quite a few passages, and we haven’t even touched the Psalms yet!  If you would like to check out the Psalm references to music and joy see Psalm 5:11; 27:6; 43:4; 47:1; 65:13; 67:4; 84:2; 92:4; 96:12; 98:8; 105:43; 107:22; 149:5.  That list does not include all the references to “shouting for joy”.  If it did, it would be much longer.  Certainly one of the ways we should express our joy is by proclaiming its Source!
Now what about joy in the New Testament?  Here are some references to it found there (this is by no means exhaustive):
  1. The man who found treasure in a field went and sold all he had in his joy (Matthew 13:44).  Notice that he did not sell all he had out of obligation, but out of joy!  He didn’t begrudgingly sell it all and say, “Well if I must…”  He joyfully sold it all, because he had found a greater treasure.
  2. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Master tells his faithful servants, “Enter into the joy of your Master.”  Again, there is joy to be found in God Himself!
  3. In Luke 6:22-23, we are told to rejoice and leap for joy when we are hated, excluded, reviled, and spurned.  Why?  Because our reward is great in Heaven!
  4. In John 15:11, Jesus tells His disciples that He has told them these things that their joy might be full!
  5. In John 16:20-24, Jesus tells His disciples that their sorrow will be turned to joy.
  6. In John 17:13, Jesus prays that His joy will be fulfilled in us.
  7. In Acts 13:52, the disciples are filled with both joy and the Holy Spirit.
  8. Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
  9. Joy is listed among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
  10. The book of Philippians is seeped in joy.  It includes the famous double command to, “Rejoice in the Lord always!”
  11. In James 1:2-4, we are told to find joy in our trials.  Why?  Because we know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness.
  12. Sin is not to be treated casually and with joy.  In James 4:9, we are told to let our joy become gloom.  In context, it is speaking of sin.  Sin should not be the source of our joy, because sin is ultimately a source of gloom.

Just as a healthy fear of God leads to an immovable faith in God, healthy guilt over sin leads to victory over sin through Christ, and righteous anger against immorality leads to a desire to see those bound by it delivered, finding joy and pleasure in God leads to a desire for Him that cannot be easily quenched.

Everyday leading up to Valentine’s Day we will be posting on a different emotion.  Subscribe to get them in your inbox.  Did you enjoy this article?  Give it a like.  Do you have questions?  Comment below or shoot us an email at simpledifficulttruths@gmail.com.  Would you like prayer?  All you have to do is let us know.  We’re here to serve.

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3 thoughts on “Where Has Our Joy Gone?

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