I was thinking today about ‘joy’. About what an amazing thing it is, and what an incredible gift God has given us in our ability to experience ‘joy’. With the benefit of modern neurological science we know that joy is not just an emotion, but that when we experience joy there is a physiological change that give us energy. Joy is also spiritual, coming from deep within us, from our spirit, because God in His love chose to create us as spiritual beings with the capacity to feel this thing we call ‘joy’.
Joy, like real love, has its source in God. It is one of His attributes, an integral part of His personality. Heaven is full of joy and joy is at the heart of the Trinity. When Jesus came to earth as a baby to fulfill Gods’ great plan of salvation, the shepherds were told by the angels, ‘Do not be afraid for I bring you good tidings of great joy’, Luke 2:10. All of heaven was so excited by what was about to happen, and they were expecting the news to bring ‘great joy’ to earth too.
And so it continued, Jesus was able to tell the people ‘there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents’ Luke 15:10. He was able to endure the cross in anticipation of the ‘great joy’ before Him as many people would become Christians and join His ever growing Kingdom, Hebrews 12:2. Even in the Old Testament we read that the Lord has great joy over His people as they turn to Him, Zephaniah 3:17.
It would seem that so much of heaven’s joy and God’s joy is found in loving and saving us, in bringing us into relationship with Himself. Amazing as it may seem, we are actually a source of joy to Him. It is no wonder then, that as Christians, we find our ‘fullness of joy’ ‘in His presence’ Psalm 16:11.
We can even experience joy in difficult circumstances, as we walk in the knowledge that He is with us. If we look at Psalm 23, for example, we can see that David experiences more than a hint of joy, as he senses the Lord spreading a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He writes ‘You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows’. Now that is a testimony of joy in a time of trouble.
If we give Jesus and the Father joy, what about the Holy Spirit. Well I think the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who imparts the joy of heaven into our spirit. Paul tells us that ‘the Kingdom of heaven is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit’, Romans 14:17. Joy is also listed as one of the fruit of the Spirit, Galations 5:22. Joy is definitely one of the real benefits of staying full of the Spirit.
So we are made in Gods’ image, and are capable of giving Him joy and receiving His joy within ourselves. There is joy in His presence as we get close to Him, and joy in the Holy Spirit as He fills us. Our joy is in fact all connected to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Things that rob us of joy are therefore things that grieve Him. Things that can fill our minds, and seep into our spirits like doubt, unbelief, unforgiveness, criticism and fear. In fact all the negatives that the enemy feeds us with are the antithesis of joy, and that is how he robs us, John 10:10. He gets us to partner with his thoughts and lies by agreeing with them. If we feed on his lies and half truths we will stifle the things that the Holy Spirit wants to fill us with, like joy.
When thanksgiving fills our mouths, our minds and therefore our hearts, there is no room for any of those negatives. Today as we say ‘Thank you so much Lord that you gave me the capacity to experience joy’, I believe the Lord will release a blessing of joy over us, whatever our current circumstances. Isaiah 61:3. Our thanksgiving will draw us close to Him and we will find His joy filling us again and again.