The word ‘joy’ comes from the Greek root word ‘chara’ and means ‘to be exceedingly glad.’ While happiness may come and go based on circumstances and the people around you, joy is different. James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of various kinds…” How is possible to connect trials with joy? Because joy has to do with inward peace and contentment. It is lasting and not based on outward but inward circumstances. This kind of joy is joy in God.
Persevere through trials
How can we find joy in God? James 1:3-4 says “you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We find joy in God as we persevere through trials with God’s help, and our faith in God matures and is strengthened.
This is clearly illustrated in the book of Philippians, written by the apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome. He uses the words ‘joy’, ‘rejoice’, and ‘joyful’ sixteen times and teaches us how to have true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances. In chains and aware that his life was coming to an end, Paul spoke about his faith and trust in Christ and his perspective on suffering. In Philippians 1:12-24, Paul says that because of his two-year imprisonment, the whole Roman guard heard the Gospel from him, and it had even spread throughout all of Rome. In verse 18 Paul says, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice“.
How to get this joy
Joy is so important for a Christian to have, that before Jesus was arrested He spoke about it: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
Let’s examine John 15:4-5 and John 15:9-10 to see what He said so that we may know how to have His joy in us:
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10).
First, let’s see what it means to ‘remain’ in the vine. Notice that in nature the branch surrenders completely to the vine and exists only for the vine. In the same way, Jesus wants us to surrender ourselves to Him and live for Him (verse 4). Second, we are to depend on Him. The branch cannot do anything without the vine. It is only when we are nothing in ourselves, that God can do everything through us (verse 5). Third, we are to rest in His love (verse 9) and fourth, we have to obey Him (verse 10).
It is very important for us to have joy in our lives. Otherwise we won’t be credible witnesses for Christ.