But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
[Galatians 5: 22–23]
For the joy of the Lord is your strength.
[Nehemiah 8: 10]
What do we mean by joy? If we mean always being happy and full of gladness, then some of the Bible verses about joy are very challenging! One in particular comes from the letter of James (1: 2): “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds”. If joy is simply about being happy, then how do we do that when facing trials and challenges?
Joy is more than smiling, laughing, feeling happy. True joy is deep within – a sense of inner contentment, peace and calm, regardless of what is going on around you. Many people speak of feeling this way even when terrible things are happening all around them. That inner sense of calm can bring great comfort in times of difficulty and bring strength to those who are struggling. Many people speak of it as feeling God’s strength and presence with them; even knowing that bad or uncomfortable things are still going to happen, they feel a sense of inner calm.
There are many hymns that speak of joy; perhaps take time to look at some of your favourites and consider what they have to say about joy. Our prayer today is based on lyrics from ‘Joy Unspeakable’, by Barney Warren (which can be found on www.hymnary.org):
O loving God
In you we find everything we need.
We find all that we crave in your presence.
We have peace and contentment within our souls.
Our joy is beyond telling,
Overflowing us even in the darkness.
We thank you for your joy flowing through us.
Our words cannot express enough thanks
For the many blessings you bestow upon us,
The peace you grant deep within us;
Our inner joy is beyond words.
We thank you Lord.