Have you ever heard a baby laugh? Not just giggle, but full on laugh out loud with that tiny little voice? There is something so absolutely pure and innocent about that. That baby hasn’t been disillusioned by the world. She hasn’t been hurt by people yet. She doesn’t need anything to be content. Babies just have a sense of joy about them.
Joy is not a word we think about often. We think more of happiness. When I make enough money I’ll be happy. When I meet the right person or get the right job I’ll be happy. If I lose the right amount of weight or wear the right clothes I’ll be happy.
The problem with pursuing happiness is that it is based on moving targets. The right person when we are 20 may not be the right person when we are 30. The right job can become the wrong one as quickly as getting a new boss. The right weight changes with our bodies as we age.
The difference between joy and happiness is that while happiness is pegged to a moment in time, joy is connected to something deeper. It’s not about what we have or don’t have. It’s more about who we are, or who we are becoming. It’s rooted in the very heart of a person.
When you have it, you know it and never want to let it go. When you don’t have it, you see it in others and want it desperately. But it can seem ethereal and hard to catch. Like trying to catch a butterfly on a windy day.
In Philippians 4 the apostle Paul writes about joy, saying this:
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
That may sound strange because it’s a command – be full of joy. As if joy is not a hidden treasure that we stumble upon, but a choice that we can make. But that’s exactly what Paul is saying.
Joy is available to each and every single one of us. And it’s as simple as making a choice.
If that’s true, maybe our problem is not that a joyful life isn’t available to us, but that we just don’t know how to choose it. Choosing joy starts with knowing where to find it. In Psalm 16, David shows us exactly where that is.
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
True joy is found in God’s presence. It’s so simple.
You can’t find eternal joy in temporary things. But God is eternal and full of joy. He’s the most joyful person in the universe.
Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling.
1 Chronicles 16:27
When I was a kid I had a friend whose mom always had brand name cans of pop filling the fridge. I hung out there all the time because I knew I could have all the mountain dew I wanted whenever I wanted it. I did everything I could to go over there. I invited myself over. I made up excuses about why we couldn’t hang out at my house because I just wanted to get at those sweet, cold cans of pop!
God’s house is full of joy. It’s in all the fridges and closets. When you come over you can have your fill of it.
Joy is found in God’s presence. Are you finding ways to intentionally spend time with him at his house? Are you doing everything you can every day to carve out time to just hang out with God? To spend time reading his word? To pray, talk to him about your life, to ask him for his help? To go outside and take a walk and just think about him and how good he is? To sit silently and let him speak to you?
You can’t drink your friend’s pop if you don’t go to your friends house. And you can’t consistently experience true joy unless you spend time at it’s source – God’s presence.
Answer this question: How can I spend more time in God’s presence in order to experience his joy? As you begin to answer this question and live it out, you will begin to experience joy like you never have before.