Joy is something that we as believers have deep down inside of us that can't be touched by this world. It means that in every situation, no matter the situation, we have a hope and a peace and a contentment that is not shaken.
However, it is so often confused with happiness. Happiness is dependent on situations. You get a raise at work, you're happy. Your car gets a flat tire, you're not happy. Even though happiness is fleeting, this world is all about doing "what makes you happy." So that's why having joy, which is permanent and independent of any situation, sets us apart. On the other hand, however, it's also why we struggle to truly grasp joy; we're so inundated with choosing happiness that it can be hard to remember to choose joy.
Side note: Our pastor recently did a series on choosing joy. It was so good. He did the series out of the book of Philippians, which is a letter that Paul the apostle wrote while he was in jail awaiting execution. Paul chose joy in the midst of that. However, my goal in this blog series on the fruit of the Spirit is to focus on Jesus and how he demonstrated the different fruits. So I would strongly recommend that you just go read Philippians and look up the Choose Joy sermon series on Victory Church's website. Seriously.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. Joy and Jesus. I really didn't know what to write for this one, but thanks to my supportive husband giving me the perfect verses for this topic, here we are!
'Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.' (ESV)
In these two verses, we see a few of the aspects of joy. It is a choice, a motivation, and a reward. The verses tell us that Jesus chose joy because it motivated Him to endure the cross to obtain the reward beyond it. Joy is a hope and a sustaining force. It carried Jesus through the suffering of the cross. In my church's series on choosing joy, our pastor pointed out that we, the children of God, are the joy that was set before Jesus. Our salvation was the joy that motivated Jesus to die on the cross. If you get nothing else out of this post, I hope at the very least that this fact settles deep into your soul like it did in mine. You were Jesus's joy. Knowing that His death on the cross meant that one day you would come to know Him as your Savior made it all worth it to Him.
Also, the verses say to look to Jesus while we run the race set before us. So while we're following the path that God has planned for our lives, we are called to look to Jesus as an example of how to do it, and how to do it with joy. I believe that if we focus on Jesus and choose joy in the midst of everything going on around us, incredible things can happen in our lives. Basically I hope that this post serves as a reminder to choose joy, let it motivate you, and look to its reward with hopeful anticipation.