Where Can I Find Joy?
By Dot Bowen
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11 (NIV)
I’m going to date myself and ask you if you know the song “Down in My Heart.” The lyrics go like this:
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, Down in my heart to stay!
And if the Devil doesn't like it He can sit on a tack! Ouch! Sit on a tack! Ouch! Sit on a tack! And if the Devil doesn't like it He can sit on a tack! Ouch! Sit on a tack to stay!
Oh boy, this song brings back childhood memories! I didn’t sing it as a child, but I sang it to my children. It makes me laugh to think about the devil sitting on a tack. Ouch! I’m sure a tack would really hurt the devil! J As a child, it’s easy to sing I have the joy of the Lord in my heart. But later, life seems to become a little more complicated, and we ask ourselves, “Where did my joy go?” I believe life sometimes has a way of sucking the joy right out of us!
Joy is something many desire, but should we have to strive to find joy? God gives us His joy—and joy makes life bearable—but wanting joy cannot be our purpose to live. God is both joyful and the source of our joy. Yet we are not to seek joy, but instead, we are to seek God. In your current situation, do you have the joy of the Lord? I want to tell you the truth: your joy is not determined by your current circumstances! Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. If we have the Spirit, we have joy. There is a difference between being joyful and experiencing joy. As a matter of fact, we may encounter a few “joy stealers” in life. Joy stealers may be circumstances, difficult people, possessions, worry, and on and on. These can steal the experience of joy that only God gives. If you truly desire the joy that only God can give, you can only find it as a follower of Christ.
I love Psalm 139:7. David asks, “Where can I go from Your spirit?” And then answers his own question: “Nowhere can I go that God’s spirit is not there.” And may I add, nothing can truly rob you from experiencing joy because God’s joy comes from His spirit. If you woke up this morning, God gave you this day to live for Him! And life is too short to allow circumstances, people, possessions, or worry to rob you of His joy. To personally stop allowing these things to rob me of experiencing joy, I have to be single minded. I learned this from Paul who was single minded and knew his purpose in life. In Philippians 1:21 Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul was in prison when he wrote those words! I am sure prison was not very joyful, but Paul was full of joy. This is a great example demonstrating circumstances don’t determine our joy.
When we embrace the correct mindset, we will find a deep joy bursting in our hearts. The joy of the Lord is in us despite circumstances, people, and possessions. Are you struggling to experience joy? I understand more than you know, but I have also experienced joy in the midst of very difficult circumstances. Remember, often the difficult things that happen are out of your control. Since you may not be able to control your circumstances or the people around you, you must give them to God and allow Him to work out the issues. When we give God our joy stealers, we can experience His joy. How do we give these things to God? Start by praying, “God you handle this. I’m done with trying to change what I cannot change.” And then start singing the song with me, “I have the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!” Because you do!
Further Reading Psalm 139:7-10; Acts 13:52; Romans 14:17; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 1:11; James 1:2