There is no doubt the world is aching for joy. It is perhaps the one thing all humanity seeks—since the fall of our first ancestors—and which continues to escape so many of us. From the appeal of books such as The Secret and Eat Pray Love, joy is an elusive commodity for many, even followers of Christ. When you consider all the self-help books and sought-after motivational speakers out there (some not without merit) proposing the secrets to living a joyful life, it is easy to see that this is a human dilemma. But this quest for peace that transcends all understanding is nothing new. Almost 3,000 years ago, King David—with all his wisdom, money, power, and intellect—experienced this same dilemma, only to conclude that life is empty and meaningless without God leading.
The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And today, we are still disillusioned, tired, frustrated, and unfulfilled because we are searching for joy and happiness through power, possessions, relationships, and entertainment. But oftentimes, our search has not only placed an impossible burden on others to make us happy, but it has afflicted us with moral blindness and an insatiable appetite for instant gratification.
However although the desire to be happy is innate in all of us, joy is more than merely happiness. It is a fruit of the Spirit, and perhaps it has eluded us because we are pleasure-seekers instead of Christ-seekers. Jesus tells us to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV). Unlike happiness, which is contingent more on external actions, joy flows from within and by believing and attending to God’s Word. C. S. Lewis states, “Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.” David writes, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Joy is a life-giving and Christ-sustaining emotion, and believers should have that sense of security, in spite of what our circumstance may be telling us.
God, in His infinite wisdom, gives us everything we need. But regardless of what the world tells us, living a jubilant life will not happen simply by positive thinking or by the power of intention. As a fruit of the Spirit, joy is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us, and so it requires a relationship with God to thwart our self-indulgence tendencies. However, when that relationship is broken or fragmented, joy is not sustainable. When we keep in constant, close communication with Christ, joy is assured even when setback seems imminent. David declared, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rest is safety” (Psalm 16:8-9 NLT). Real joy is of Christ, in Christ, and no one or nothing can fill us like Christ can. It is the path to living a jubilant life!
First published in the July issue of Truth in the News Magazine