The Meaning of Joy

The Meaning of Joy

Published Dec 29, 2021

By Amanda Popp

Back in September, the Lord gave me the word JOY. At the moment I was actually surprised. I did not consider myself a person “of joy”. I didn’t consider my personality this JOYFUL thing. I joked with people that “joyful” was probably not going to be an adjective they would use to describe me.

THEN. Then the Lord started popping up the word joy everywhere. Every time I heard it I would smile and say “yes, Lord, I see it.” Then He started having me really look into joy and what it meant. And I was blown away that what I CONSIDERED joy…wasn’t really the joy of the Bible. Away I went on a personal journey of finding joy.

A month or so later, someone came up to me and said “you look more alive. you look alive.” I was taken aback by it…in a good way. In a way that made me realize…I was looking more alive because I was embracing that TRUE JOY that was inside of me all along.

A week later, Kevin, my pastor, preached a message on “Noble Faith”. The words God spoke through him went something like this…Faith is confirmed through obedience. Step out in obedient faith. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at the Lord and said “FINE!!” because He had been speaking to my heart about sharing this message of TRUE Joy.

Because I’m a note taker, and love a good outline…Here is my outline for you.

What joy is not.

What joy is.

What now?

What joy is NOT.

True joy of the Lord is NOT an emotional feeling. If it were…it would go away. An emotion literally lasts a few seconds…it rarely lasts more than an hour.

True joy of the Lord is NOT a look on our face. If it were…I definitely wouldn’t be considered joyous at all. ever.

True joy of the Lord is NOT the enemies to have. If it were…it would be a shaking kind of joy…and true Joy of the Lord isn’t shakable. Not one bit.

True joy of the Lord does is NOT defined by the circumstances around us. If it did…it would never be in us.

What joy is.

The first verse that stuck me straight in the heart on my journey of joy was Nehemiah 8:10— Do not grieve, because the JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.

What is joy? OUR STRENGTH. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It IS. It’s not about what it might be. what it sometimes is. IT IS. Of course, life happens, we don’t always see ourselves as strong…BUT If we read 2 Corinthians 12:10—For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, For when I am weak, then I AM STRONG.

Of course, if you’re like me, you can read God’s word and say “WELL! fine. but it doesn’t change what I am going through.” And we’d be right. Very right. It doesn’t change anything we are going through. Not at all. BUT you know what God’s word DOES do. It changes US.

Because if we are in God’s word we can rest in the truth of His word. His word can get into every single part of our being. Hebrews 4:12—For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Our brokenness. Our suffering. THEY DO NOT HAVE the final word. Our joy is going to require a battle. And we can fight those battles with the weapon, the ONLY offensive weapon he has given us. HIS WORD. God’s words are our FIGHTING WORDS.

We can fight the enemy who is going to try and ruin our witness for Christ with the very words of Jesus found in John 16:33—I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. in the world, you will have tribulation. BUT TAKE HEART; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.

He’s done it. Because God doesn’t change it means he’s done it today. He’s done it tomorrow. He’s done it all of the yesterdays. He is I AM. always. We belong to the one who can never be defeated. The one who never changes.

Our inner joy can and WILL reach beyond any single circumstance we find ourselves in. We can do as Habakkuk 3:18-19 says…“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.” We can trust in the joy of God. The joy that fills us to the brim because it will lead us not to suffering, but to Christ. We can trust what His word tells us and we can find our joy in God himself.

Our JOY is a state of being. A state of being is a quality. The overall physical condition of yourself. It isn’t your “mental state.” We can recite the “fruits of the spirit” to the kids in Sunday School Bible lessons…I know I have with my own kids. For me, then, it becomes one of those lists I’ve memorized. BUT if I take it word by word…and go a little slower..I read…Galatians 5:22—but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy…

JOY. It’s there. Our fruit (our state of being) is JOY. The spirit is producing that quality in us. That joy isn’t just a reason for us to then “be good”, but it’s there FOR our good. We can realize that it’s not at all about that look on our face, but all about the condition of our heart. We can find that JOY in gratitude and hope…but also right alongside the grief and weariness. Because it’s always there. We don’t have to be afraid to ask God to meet us in our grief and weariness, because HIS JOY IS THERE. It’s already there for us. It always has been.

And just why is that JOY already there for us? Because it’s unshakable. IT CANNOT BE SHAKEN! How can we know that?

Simply stated. Psalm 16: 8-11 tells us. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are measures forevermore.

If we will not be shaken…then our JOY cannot be, either. It’s part of us. Our state of being. The enemy cannot take it away. IT IS NOT HIS TO TAKE. God gives us our joy. We haven’t had it stolen by the enemy.  The enemy tries to dangle it in front of us acting like it is his, making us think he stole it. Lying to us like the liar he is. Don’t just take it from me, take it from Jesus in John 8:44—When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

We can trust in God that cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18-19—so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

We can and should choose to walk in hope and holiness. We have an expectant hope. That hope (and joy) are an act of will and NOT our feelings.

What joy is not. What joy is. What NOW?!

What now, is for me just as much as it is for you hearing me speak it. I’m speaking these things to my own heart as a reminder. I’m sharing these things that I’ve been working on as an encouragement to your heart and to let you know that NONE of us have it all together.

I think it’s the most “fun” to find joy in the good stuff. In the mundane moments. In the moments where everything is going just right. We can rejoice when He provides that much-needed raise. We can rejoice that the homeschool day went off without a hitch. We can rejoice that it doesn’t feel like we’re waiting for the second shoe to drop.

The joy in the hard. In the sufferings. In the grief. In every single thing is going wrong moments…is hard stuff. Really hard stuff.

I like to prepare ahead of time for those moments. I like to equip my heart with verses that speak to those moments. John 16:33 is my absolute favorite. Jesus PROMISES us hard stuff. tribulations he calls them. Tribulations by definition are GREAT TROUBLES AND SUFFERINGS. He told us straight up…we WILL HAVE THEM. BUT. (one of the greatest ‘buts’ I’ve ever seen, too) HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD. Jesus has overcome the world. We can rest in that. We know that we will have troubles…great troubles…but He wins. and because He wins…WE WIN.

We can rest in James 1:2-4—Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We can rest in knowing that WHEN, not if, our hardships come…we can count it all joy. We can know that the testing will produce steadfastness in us. He is working through our trials. We can CHOOSE to be thankful for them, because of the promises He has for us. (and God isn’t in the business of changing his mind or his promises)

Find yourself a peace giving, life giving, love giving verse to rest in. Memorize that verse. Write it down and post it all over the place…then, when those promised troubles come…you’ll be equipped for battle. You can speak TRUTH into the hard stuff. You can speak TRUTH to yourself. THE LIVING WORD OF GOD TRUTH!! Hide those words in your heart.

Be a joy spreader. Joy is a fruit of the spirit. You’ve been freely given the joy because of your belief and subsequent salvation. You are empowered by the Holy Spirit can you bear His fruit and share HIS joy!

Give someone a “joy boost”. Send a note of encouragement filled with JOY of who and WHOSE they are.

Bear someone’s burden. Walk alongside of them helping to remind them WHO is in control for all good.

Remember that when we trust in his will, we can (and should) rejoice. Habakkuk speaks to my heart each moment of my hardships…Even if XYZ happens…I WILL REJOICE.

I can rest in Romans 8:28—And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. GOD IS AT WORK IN MY MESSES. His ultimate purpose will prevail and will work together for my good and HIS GLORY. and the same is true for YOU. He is at work for YOUR good and HIS glory.

Throughout my study on joy one children’s Bible song has been echoing off my heart, so, I’ll close with those lyrics…

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 (where?)

Down in my heart to stay…

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