What Steals Your Joy?
Think for a minute and honestly answer this question. “What steals your joy?” Does your answer include one of the following: marriage problems, painful relationships, disobedient children, health concerns or financial struggles? Although the responses are unique to each person, we usually reply with things that are based on external conditions.
Last week I shared a blog entitled Where Can I Find Joy? In it I stated “Although a joyful person may experience happiness, true joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances.” So if joy isn’t determined by what’s going on in our lives, why does it feel like our enjoyment in life is stolen when various trials come our way? Is it possible to have uninterrupted joy as Paul instructed the believers at the church at Philippi?
“Always be full of joy in the Lord, again I say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
This question can be answered by understanding the difference between the words joy and happiness.
Joy verses Happiness
The definition of the word rejoice, from which our word joy comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” The definition for the word happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” While these two words are similar, they are derived from different root words.
The word happiness comes from the Middle English word hap which meant “chance” or “good luck.” As you might suspect, this is the same root word for “happening.” This means that our happiness, or feelings of pleasure and enjoyment, directly corresponds to the external things that are going on around us. Because of this, any discord in relationships with family and friends as well as a plethora of negative things in our lives can greatly diminish our feelings of pleasure.
In contrast, the word joy comes from the Greek root word chara which means “to be exceedingly glad.” I was surprised to find that it is also related to the Greek root word for “grace” (charis) which originally signified “favor” and “lovingkindness”—especially as granted by a superior to an inferior. As far back as the ancient Greek poet and author, Homer, this word for joy and grace denoted “sweetness” or “attractiveness”.
The biblical meaning of the word “grace” has an even deeper impact because of the special redemptive sense in which God gives favor to His undeserving children. This is evident in the following verse.
“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:11).
Knowing that we have been moved from being an enemy of God (Ro. 5:10) into a loving relationship is thrilling beyond words and should stir within us a joy overflowing. As a result, true joy is an internal emotion that depends on our secure relationship with Christ.
Speaking about His beloved sheep in John 10 Jesus said:
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
These verses tell us that we are in the mighty hands of the Father and the Son and there are no hands more powerful than these. Consequently, our eternal security can’t be lost, stolen or removed. Nothing…no one or thing, can steal our salvation from us. So how do we apply hard verses like James 1:2 in light of this knowledge?
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2).
Since Satan can’t steal our salvation he will do everything in his limited power to steal our joy. He sends fiery darts to break our hearts, destroy our hope and cause us to doubt God’s goodness. How can we fight against his crafty schemes?
Nothing, absolutely nothing…
The Bible tells us that we should expect troubles to come because we live in a fallen world. So when, not if, our life is falling apart, we must remind ourselves that these temporal things will fade away, but the “sweetness” of God’s grace is eternal…and nothing, absolutely nothing can steal it from us. When we are facing hardships we should recognize that even though we aren’t happy about our circumstances, we can have uninterrupted joy because the Lord is our amazing grace. No matter what we are going through, we can find comfort in the presence of the Savior and return to joy.
God desires for you to experience a life filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit…so answer this question again: What can steal your joy? God has made it clear that the answer should be absolutely nothing…our joy is eternal.