“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Read through the nine fruit of the Spirit out loud. Then, if you can, repeat them silently with your eyes closed a few times. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring one of them to the forefront of your mind and see what happens.
This exercise, suggested in One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation, led me down the path of understanding, seeking, and experiencing not just more joy but joy more regularly.
Joy is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. It’s a feeling of keen pleasure or elation. Joy is also an expression or display of glad feeling or festive gaiety. It’s a state of happiness or felicity.
To give further depth to the meaning of joy, consider this definition.
Joy is the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled. (Got Questions)
With these two definitions of joy in mind, I started thinking about my sources of joy.
When I considered when I feel joy, I realized that most of the time it is temporary. It also mostly experienced through people and is all too often deflated by disappointment from the same sources. To be fair, that deflation comes frequently because of my unrealistic expectations.
However, when I focus on joy as a natural reaction to God’s activity, I experience it in a more sustainable way. In other words, pursuing God as my source of joy and allowing him to be the venue through which I experience lasting joy brings me to a place of experiencing unfading joy.
As Got Questions answers the question, “What is joy?” it explains that having joy is a choice. More specifically, “We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives.”
In choosing joy by valuing God, I must understand what he says about joy, not the least of which is:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
This brings us back around to joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God will fill me with joy and peace as I choose to believe in him, which gives the Holy Spirit full access to leading me to a place of abounding hope.
Finding joy, then, begins with focusing on God as my source. He often chooses to work through other people, but I also experience joy in nature and during my one-on-one time with him. Focus determines reality is never truer than when finding joy.
It also includes, as the dictionary and Got Questions indicates, activity. Specifically, it involves choosing to respond to God’s activity by rejoicing in who he is and making rejoicing a continual habit.
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)