How to Know Joy

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“Over and over again I sail towards joy, which is never in the room with me, but always near me, across the way, like those rooms full of gayety one sees from the street, or the gayety in the street one sees from a window. Will I ever reach joy? It hides behind the turning merry-go-round of the traveling circus. As soon as I approach it, it is no longer joy. Joy is a foam, an illumination. I am poorer and hungrier for the want of it.” – Anais Nin, twentieth-century author.


Do you ever feel that way?


Ever struggle with resting in pure joy?


Wherein is the enjoyment of this seemingly evasive trait?


1. Joy is an already-attained gift.


When we accept Christ’s life in exchange for ours, He trades out our old nature for His. In Him, we have not only wisdom and righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), but everything that we need for all of life as well (2 Peter 1:3). Because we have Him, we now have a God-originated life (2 Peter 1:4).


Think of it. When you have the Son, you also have the qualities of His life. Qualities like love, joy and peace are embedded into who you now are (1 John 5:12; Galatians 5:22). A new spirit-dimension has been opened within you. Your prayer is not, “Give me joy,” but, “Teach me how to access the joy I already have in You.”


2. Joy is God-sourced, not self-sourced.


Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). As I look this up in the original language, I find that the emphasis is upon God-originated joy, not upon situation-dependent joy.


We want joy for our benefit. We want joy becasue we personally want to feel better. But, spiritual joy isn’t about self. Spiritual joy emanates within the Life and is connected by a spiritual cord to the eternal. It’s an inside-out flow, not an outside-in dribble. It surges through us and spills out of us, without just pooling (and therefore stagnating) within.


Joy overflows when our purpose is bringing Him joy. Our motivation is His happiness, not our own (John 15:8). But for selfish people like we are, that requires a moment by moment choice. It’s no wonder we so often ask for joy and don’t receive it. After all, we ask just so that we can spend it on our own pleasures (James 4:3).



3. Sharing in what brings God joy will bring us joy as well.



The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son all have the same theme: God loves His near Him (Luke 15). Whether it was the lamb caught in the brambles, the dusty penny under the bed or the son rotting in the pig-stye, each story tells of rejoicing. So, if you are His, no matter how scratched or filthy you feel, He is thrilled to have you close. Your homecoming is always His joy.


On a daily basis, this can include returning our wondering thoughts and emotions to Him. No matter what kind of “stinking thinking” we experience, He always welcomes return. May we share His joy today every time we bring a random thought or emotion back to His feet (2 Corinthians 10:5).


What about you? What has He taught You about joy?