Joy. It’s a funny thing this word. Funny how often we confuse it with the emotion of happiness. Over many years and many trials, I’ve come to learn that joy is more than an emotion. I believe it is a gift. A gift from the Holy Spirit. A gift that’s always with us if we but open our hearts to see it.
Galatians 5 tells us that when we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we are given gifts or fruits from the Spirit. Among these nine gifts, we find the gift of joy. So if this gift, this joy, isn’t an emotion, then what is it? The best way I can think to explain joy is the deep down knowledge that the Lord is for me. In the midst of trial and heartache, the God of the universe is on my side. It’s as if there is a flame within my heart that cannot be extinguished by difficulties, or bad days, or harsh words, or illnesses, or any other thing the world may throw my way.
Over the last year I’ve learned that finding joy in the small things is a discipline that is well worth the effort. By taking time each day to look for the reminders that the Lord is on my side I can fan the flame of joy within my heart. Sometimes these joy reminders are as simple as a hug from a friend. Sometimes they are as grand as a doctor working tirelessly to help find the answers to my body’s shortcomings. Sometimes they are as unseen as the daily prayers of my loved ones. Sometimes they are as bold as the entire secondary school laying hands on my husband and me to pray for us.
Searching for joy in the midst of beauty can be easy. Searching for joy in the midst of trial takes a lot more effort, but the joy is there. It’s there because God is there. In the last two years, my husband and I have suffered through some difficult heartaches, but the Lord has been by our side. By searching for joy reminders in the midst of heartache, I’ve discovered what a big and amazing God we serve. While our trials have been painful, our Lord has redeemed them and used them for his glory. He’s given us the gift of grace which has allowed us to minister to others because of the pain we’ve faced. He’s allowed us to grow closer to one another because we’ve opened our hearts to growing closer to Him. The joy has remained through the pain because Christ has been right in the center of our pain, holding our hearts the whole time.
Where do you see joy in your life today? Is it in the simple beauty of a wildflower? Is it in the email received from a dear friend? What is it that reminds you that Jesus is holding your heart in his hands this very moment?
About the Author: Tricia and her husband Matt serve as missionary teachers at the International Christian School of Vienna in Vienna, Austria where they have the joy of living out the Gospel with families from over 30 different nations. Visit their blog: kleinwelt.com