The Fruit of Joy
The Beginning, Part 2: The Character of God
Galatians 5:22 NKJV
Romans 12:12 ESV
Philippians 4:4 NKJV
James 1:2 NKJV
John 16:21-24 NKJV
Psalm 16:11 NKJV
Proverbs 17:22 ESV
Matthew 11:28 NKJV
The second fruit of the Spirit that embodies the character of God is joy. Our God is a God who rejoices over creation. Actually, His creation IS all the evidence we need to remind us God is joyful. God rejoiced when He created and sustains waterfalls, mountains, vast oceans, animals, and humans.
It’s interesting to me that in Romans 12:12 the Apostle Paul reminds us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.” Why does Paul equate being joyful in hope with being patient in tribulation and constant in prayer? Isn’t joy about being happy?
After studying Joy in scripture, I think it’s much more. The kind of joy scripture speaks of in relation to the character of God is a deep abiding sense of knowing that regardless of what trials and tribulations we face, when we spend time talking to God and we come to a point where we embrace hope in knowing God will not fail us. We will win. We will have scars that make us stronger and wiser.
That’s the reason why the Apostle Paul told the members of the church in Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” The early church did face times of great tribulation and fear. At the time Paul wrote this, he was in prison. Many of the disciples had been martyred. Still Paul did not back down. He would not be silenced. Because of that, his death was certainly imminent. Biblical Historians do not all agree on the timing, but some believe Paul was beheaded in 68 A.D. (https://www.biblestudy.org/question/sauldie.html).
Paul faced tribulation and he rejoiced in knowing that God was with him.
James, who wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” was well acquainted with tribulation. According to Acts 1-2, the author of the book of James was the brother of John and he was killed by King Agrippa.
Like Paul, even while facing death he was filled with joy in the middle of trials.
In his Gospel, John compares the suffering of a woman in labor to the joy she receives once the child is born after her suffering. In John 16:23-24, he says when we have sorrow, “whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
That is a promise we can count on!
The Psalmist David was beset with sorrow. He tells us that in his time of sorrow, he found joy in God’s presence, Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Regardless of his circumstance (which was very dire), David knew God had a plan and he found joy IN God.
Turn to God when you had sorrow and sit in His presence.
Finally, in Proverbs 17:22, we learn that “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Long before the days of modern medicine, Solomon knows that joy is good medicine for the soul. Today we know that laughter, joy, and hope produce dopamine and serotonin in the brain which brings more joy. We also know when we repeatedly wallow in our unhappiness without turning to God we are left with our unhappy attitude.
Take your sorrow to God and grieve with Him. As we stand in the presence of God we will be healed and will receive release from our sorrow.
Ultimately, our answer comes down to one solution. IN God’s presence we receive joy. When we go to God we may be full of sorrow. We may grieve and weep, but after sitting with God for a while, the time of grief will pass and we will be healed.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
When I rest in God’s presence I am given joy.
Because the Spirit gives me joy, I am filled with joy. The Spirit of God lightens my load and reminds me I need to laugh often. Our God is not the curmudgeon He is sometimes made out to be. Remember we are created in the image of God and that means joy from God spills out over us when we give space to God.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Find Joy
Finding joy begins with sitting in the presence of God. If you have sorrow or grief, let it emerge and let God help you work through your burden. After, remain in God’s presence and let joy flood your soul. The joy of sitting in God’s presence is well...priceless.
In God, Deborah