Joy to the World….and Me, too???


It is something that has always seemed elusive to me. The definition of the word is “great happiness or something that brings happiness”. Synonyms include happiness, delight, pleasure, enjoyment, bliss, elation, thrill, gladness and many more.

Okay, I get all of those definitions, but I’ve never felt that I really understood the true meaning of joy, nor have I ever felt it consistently. There, I said it.


Oh, now, don’t go looking at me like I had three heads! Surely there are scriptural concepts that you just don’t ‘get’?

Let’s dig a bit deeper into my theological joy conundrum.

Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, listed right after love. For it to be number 2 on the list, likely means it is pretty important. The Zodhiates Key Word Study Bible tells me that the Greek word used here for joy is ‘chara’ and it means ‘to rejoice, joy, gladness.’ Well, now that was helpful! Mr. Z goes on to say that related words are exultation, exuberant joy, good cheer, mirth, gladness of heart. Hmmmm??!!

Does that mean I am supposed to run around all the time with a big goofy grin on my face being happy, happy, happy about everything? I don’t think so. When I took a personality test a few years ago, I discovered I was a choleric-melancholy, which means I am a down-rather-than-up control freak. Sheesh. “Happy, happy, happy” is not likely to happen with this girl on any consistent basis. Not that I go around with a long, sad face all the time. I don’t, but neither am I usually the life of the party.

This weekend, as I was spending time in 1 Thessalonians, I hopped over to a commentary to check out a verse of Scripture. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says

‘rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks….’

Rejoice always. What in the world? I picked up my MacArthur New Testament Commentary on 1&2 Thessalonians and began reading. MacArthur says that we need a proper perspective on biblical joy. If we have this right perspective, we have reason to rejoice. Okay, now we might be getting somewhere.

MacArthur goes on to list ten reasons for joy. Ten, and not a one of them were food related. Stink!!! Even in light of that huge oversight on MacArthur’s part, I was finally able to get a better grip on joy. Here are his ten reasons for biblical joy and at least one Scripture to support each:

1. The character of God

Psalm 28:7 (NIV) – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

2. Christ’s work on the cross

Romans 5:1-2 (NIV) – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

3. The Holy Spirit’s ministry to believers

John 14: 26 (ESV) – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

4. Many spiritual blessings

Ephesians 1:3-14 – (My synopsis of the list of spiritual blessings.) We are blessed, chosen, adoption, redeemed, forgiven, and included by God.

5. God’s providence in orchestrating the world and our lives

Romans 8:28-30 (ESV) – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

6. The promise of future glory

Matthew 5: 12a (ESV) – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…..

7. Answered prayer

John 16:24 (ESV) – Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

8. God’s Word ~ Scripture

Hebrews 4: 12 (NIV) – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

9. Genuine fellowship with other believers

1 Thessalonians 3: 9 (NIV) – How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

10. The gospel proclaimed

Acts 15:3 (ESV) – So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.


Friends, I can be happy, happy, happy about any one of those ten, or every single one of them.

I don’t know why this was such an eye-opener to me, but it was. The world doesn’t give us much to be joyful over with all the evil and yuck spread around. God, on the other hand, gives us a whole passel of stuff to feel joy over. I can experience joy because of my relationship with Jesus, in spite of the muckity muck in the world. So can you, friend!


Linking up with Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup.

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  • Kathy Schwanke

    I think I have a bit of the melancholy personality too Leah. And I love that when I turn my mind off of life’s troubles, and onto Jesus, that I find my joy. So needed in this day of 50 shades and measles and other messy mayhem … “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” Joy is always found in looking forward and upward. In His presence is fullness of joy. :)

    • You stated the key to joy, Kathy….taking our eyes and mind off this world and placing them on Jesus. Truly, in His presence is fullness of joy! Bless you for sharing such beautiful thoughts.

  • Candy Reid

    Thanks for so transparently sharing your heart! Joy eluded me for years until I finally realized that joy and happiness are NOT the same thing. I can be full of joy based on Who God is and my relationship with Him even when I’m not feeling the bubbly emotions associated with happiness. So thankful that He faithfully and continually shows us His truths that are not based on circumstance or feelings. :) Blessings to you! (Visiting from Kelly’s link-up.)

    • Candy, it is encouraging to know that others struggle with joy. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that joy is based in Who God is rather than in me. Duh! Thanks for stopping by to visit. Grace and peace.

  • Kristine Brown MTY

    Your post brought me JOY this morning! Now I have a smile on my face to start the day. Thank you for sharing! #raralinkup

    • SO glad, Kristine!! We do have much to smile about in the Lord Jesus, don’t we? Thanks for stopping in and blessing me with your comment!

  • Susan Burfoot Mead

    Joy..FUL! Thank you Leah. His joy abounds, when we seek, we find.

    • I LOVE THAT! Joy…FUL! What a great play on the word. thanks so much for stopping in!!!

  • Ellen Chauvin

    Leah, I took a personality test a few years back, and I have a melancholy personality also! I absolutely had to take the test three times because I didn’t believe it! Joy looks a little differently for “us”, huh? Thanks for your post! #raralinkup

    • Ellen, you are right…joy does look different for a melancholy. Although it was not my dominant personality, it really has a lot of influence, I am finding. Especially as I grow older, my choleric side is softening. Thanks for stopping in!

  • kelly balarie

    Yes, our true heartfelt joy comes from Jesus. I am so thankful for him. Because no one or no circumstance can ever steal these things from us. I love the list you provide. I think our great feast will be reserved in heaven. I can’t wait to link hands with you there Leah. Thank you for joining the #RaRalinkup with Purposeful Faith. You are a complete joy to me.

    • Yes, and amen. So grateful for Jesus and His love for us. I’m blessed by you, Kelly. Thank you for hosting the #RaRalinkup.