“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” — Psalm 5:11
In the Scriptures, man is commanded to have joy. Joy is the appropriate response to the salvation of the Lord—when He rescues and preserves us, when He provides for us, and when He redeems us through Christ and gives us a portion of His glory.
“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” — Psalm 35:9
“And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.” — Deuteronomy 28:46-48
Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and it is not optional in the life of the children of God.
But how? How do we have joy? Our lives and our worlds are often hectic, busy, and stressed. We struggle with depressed immune systems and emotions from the lacks in our life if we are not careful, simply for health reasons. It can be easy to wonder how we can be commanded to have joy when it often seems so difficult.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” — John 15:10-11
“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” — John 16:22
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” — I Thessalonians 2:19
The recipe for joy is simple and provided in the Scripture. Joy comes from the presence of the Lord, which can be entered immediately through praise, for God inhabits the praises of His people.
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” — Psalm 16:11
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” — Psalm 22:3
“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” — Psalm 100:2
It is Christ and His salvation that enables us to have joy in the Lord, for it is Christ that cleanses us of our sins. When we sin, we often feel a need to punish ourselves in penance and sorrow, rather than repent and return to God’s joy. But God tells us not to wallow in our shame and guilt but to bring it to Christ and be cleansed and forgiven, and then we will find joy in the Lord.
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” — Acts 3:18-19
It is through Christ and our personal salvation that we enter the presence of the Lord and are reconciled with Him. It is in the presence of the Lord that our joy abides.
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” — Romans 5:11
Atonement means not only “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends”, which is what the sacrifice Christ made brings us, but also originally, “reconciliation; agreement” from a phrase that meant literally to be at one in harmony, or at-one-ment. (Random House Dictionary) It is Christ that allows us to reconcile to God and be at one with Him.
We may come to Him with our worries and burdens and cares and give them to Christ that we may enter into atonement and joy. We may lay down our sins and walk with Him. We may enter His presence immediately with songs of praise and thanksgiving, especially in the midst of everything going wrong. We must lift our minds up to Him, and in God we will find our joy.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” — Jude 1:24-25
— Megan Payne