The Lifetime Process of Joy
You might have heard it said that there was something different about joy in comparison to happiness. I have heard it said that “Happiness is based on a happening,” which means happiness is circumstantial. Joy is this crazy thing that we can have in the midst of suffering. What if there is even more to this difference? Happiness can be flipped on and off by triggers in our lives. Have we been expecting joy to just flip on like this? What if joy is something you develop like a muscle that has to be worked out? Our aptitude for joy comes at salvation, but perhaps this joy is in its infancy and must be developed.
Let’s pretend then that our joy is like an embryo and we are the expectant mother. We conceive joy at the point of salvation, the fruits of the Spirit are rooted in us when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. We begin to go through the process of developing this joy by feeding it and caring for it within us. Mothers cut certain things from their diet to ensure the health of the child. So we too must consider what goes in our lives and what needs to change to develop our joy. Eventually, the baby is born. Perhaps this pregnancy defines our entire lives. The rest of our lives on this earth are the gestation processes of childbirth as we await in eager expectation for the coming of our Savior Jesus.
John 16:21:24 (ESV) When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
This reminds me of a Christmas carol which is perhaps better sung in expectation of His future coming rather than His birth:
Joy is ours in Jesus and is made complete when He returns. We are going through the pains of childbearing now, all the sorrows, all the pain of this fallen world, but it will not always be so. Christ Jesus will return and no one will be able to take this joy. Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” There is a process to having joy, it starts with belief, it is developed through prayer and faith, and it is made complete when He returns. So develop your joy! Quit counting on the possibility that you will just have joy because you should. Pray for it, train for it, trust in Jesus for it, love Christ in it, and see how the Lord grants you an abundance of all of the fruits of the Spirit.