Where to Find Joy (Galatians 5:22)
By: Anne Peterson
Did you ever have anyone ask you where your joy is? Maybe you started looking within yourself, or even around, trying to locate this important part of your Christian walk. Maybe you wondered why some people seem to exude joy every time you see them, but the same can’t be said about you.
It’s not like we can put up posters everywhere trying to find our missing joy.
My Bible teacher, Lois, read the words of Hebrews 12:2 to me: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of our Father” (Hebrews 12:2). And then she asked me a question. Do you know what that joy was?
It was us! Jesus went through all he did because he was thinking about those of us who would one day accept him. We are the joy that was set before him.
Our opening verse tells us where to find joy. It’s a fruit we will develop as we walk with Christ. It’s true that some display joy, no matter what is going on in their lives. How do they do it? Well maybe they worked through their trial or loss. It’s probably fair to say they didn’t feel joyful the moment their trials started.
Some of the most joyful people I’ve met are those who have gone through some of the most difficult circumstances. And there are some who are still in those difficult circumstances, too. So it’s not the absence or presence of our circumstances that determines our joy. It has to be what we focus on. Where we rest our faith.
I love the words to the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus written by Helen H. Lemmel.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace.
Remember being a new believer? We believed God could do anything. We couldn’t shut up about the Lord, sharing about him with anyone who would give us a few minutes. Were we joyful then? Yes, we were ecstatic.
But then trials started appearing in our lives. Sometimes heartbreaking things. And God showed us day after day that he would be our sufficiency (2 Corinthians 3:5). It took time for some of us to realize we could not do it all. God lovingly let us come to the end of ourselves so we could see that He is the one who would meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19).
Prior to learning that truth, we might have thought without Him we can do less. Or without him, we lacked something. But to know without Him we can do nothing? That was a hard lesson, but an essential one to walking with God.
Joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit, one we will display as we continue to walk with the Lord. Is joy the same as happiness? No.
Christian author and speaker Jill Briscoe explained the difference between happiness and joy. She said, “Happiness is when things happen to happen the way you want them to happen and you feel happy. But joy is when things don’t happen to happen the way you want them to happen, but you feel joyful. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances, but despite our circumstances.”
The Holy Spirit produces joy in our lives in his timing. In order for us to develop God’s fruit, we need to read and apply God’s Word to our lives. One stepping stone is thankfulness. God tells us in every situation to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Many years ago, I used to think that when I had less problems, then I would be joyful. But Paul learned in whatever state he was in to be content (Philippians 4:11). And his life was not always easy. Paul actually sang in prison (Acts 16:25).
It just occurred to me that we were the joy set before Jesus. And He is the joy set before us. What are you thinking about?
Father, would you help me,
when others look at me?
Help me to be joyful,
so my joy is what they see.
Help me to be grateful
with what you choose to do.
And Lord, when others look at me,
let others see just you.
—Anne Peterson © 2021
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There:Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne’s first memoir is: Broken:A story of Abuse, Survival and Hope. She has published children’s books and poetry books, such as Droplets: Poetry for Those in Grief, and He Whispers: Poetic talks with God. Anne is also a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com. Anne’s poetry has been sold in gift stores since 1996. Check out Anne’s website at www.annepeterson.com or connect with her on Facebook.
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