Why a journey to joy? I’ll tell you friends, the last few months have not been particularly joyful. Work life is extremely stressful right now, and I wish I could say “this too shall pass” and “it’s only for a season.” But when you in the middle of a hot mess, platitudes do not cut it. When it comes right down to it, we are flesh and flesh gets sick and tired, then tired of being sick and tired, and then to I just don’t care, and then to “this” (insert whatever your “this” is) has to change. I miss my joy, and I want it back.
Make no mistake, I’m talking about joy, not happiness. I mean, I like happiness. Who doesn’t? Some writers have asserted that happiness is not biblical; that it is a worldly reaction to one’s circumstances. They argue that joy is biblical because God gives it. Both joy and happiness are biblical and from God. John Piper writes, “If you have nice little categories for ‘joy is what Christians have’ and ‘happiness is what the world has,’ you can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate in its uses of the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.”
Then the young woman will rejoice with dancing,
while young and old men rejoice together.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
give them consolation,
and bring happiness out of grief.
I assert that happiness comes as a result of the joy we have in our lives. So, yes, journey to joy and feel the happiness that comes with having pure joy. But how to get this joy or get it back?
My husband loves to work in his vegetable garden. It’s therapeutic for him. He and some of the fellas in our church have a healthy competition about the size and bounty of their vegetable produce. Is anyone surprised by this? He started this hobby the year after our last child went off to college. He had more free time since we were no longer hauling off to some soccer game somewhere two nights a week and almost every weekend. (Thank the Lord!) I remember after carefully plowing neat rows and hand-dropping seeds and carefully placing little plants, a dear deacon telling him, “now you have to pray over it and ask God to make it grow.” I remember thinking that praying over it was the difference maker. We could have the best soil, the right amount of water, high-quality seeds or plant, and perfect sunshine, but if it’s not from God, it won’t grow.
As I was reflecting this morning on how to get my joy back, God put Galatians 5:22-23 in my spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Joy is fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the grower of the fruit. I can’t read enough self-help books about joy on Amazon to get it on my own. I can’t change the soil of my situation. I can’t improve the quality of the behavior of people causing angst in my life. But I can ask the Spirit for some joy fruit. Thank God that the Holy Spirit has a sharing soul and wants to give this fruit freely. The first step toward the journey to joy is to simply ask for it.