What is joy? As I have been pondering and meditating on this word, another word has come to mind: Peace. Joy and Peace walk hand in hand. They are not the same, but they both are more complete with the other.
But what is joy? Joy is more than just a smile, a laugh, a grin. Joy is something deep within that bubbles out. it bubbles into a smile, but it also bubbles into our lives.
Scripture talks a lot about joy and it's side effects. It's good medicine, the appropriate response to the presence of God in the Ark of the Covenant, and to his miraculous conception and birth. Paul tells us to rejoice always and not be anxious or dismayed. Joy is a lifestyle, a grace.
Danielle Rose's song "The Joy of the Lord" has been played many, many times in the past few weeks as I have meditated on joy, and parts of the lyrics are posted below.
"God loves a cheerful giver."
"Never let anyone come to you without leaving better and happier. Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in your life."
"Keep the joy of loving God in your heart, and share this joy with everyone you meet. We will never know how much a smile can do to spread love and peace."
"The Joy of the Lord is our strength."
This song made me sit down and ask myself some questions.
Do I find joy in loving God? Yes, I love him, and I want to serve him. But do I find joy in loving him?
Do I try to share this joy that God gives with others? Am I content to let people live their lives as they are, not joyous for the Lord?
Am I aware of how the grace of God's joy is trying to use me? Am I open to it? I know I have been in the past, but what about now? As I am at home again, back with my parents, my siblings, facing the prospect of moving again, am I still able to find joy in life, in God? The honest answer to that is definitely not all the time, and probably not even most of the time.
And that's not okay. I'm not called to be mediocre or moody. I'm called to be joyful, loving, and generous. None of these is self-serving. Joy is not self-serving. Laughing, having fun, being silly with friends, being a little kid again - these are ways joy can be beautifully expressed.
Joy is deeper than happiness. Because Joy comes with a sense of peace, of being okay with not knowing if today is your last. Happiness is what our world claims to want. But what it needs is a bit of God-given Joy.
Will we give it?