Cultivating Lives of Peace and Joy

Joy is a topic that intrigues me. It’s not the same thing as happiness, which is much more situation-dependent. Joy is an enduring quality that people can have even when things are going bad and there’s no apparent reason for happiness. It’s also something that feels elusive. Some people seem to radiate joy, but for many of us it’s harder to grasp.

I don’t think of myself as someone who’s typically or consistently full of joy, but I suspect that having it is related to inner peace. It’s hard to have joy when you’re anxious and worried about things, but shalom–the peace that comes with knowing God has made you whole; nothing missing and nothing broken–is an antidote for that anxiety.

Of course all the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are related to one another so closely that Paul calls them just one “fruit.” We need to keep that in mind when we’re separating out joy and peace for closer study. They don’t stand on their own, but we can focus today’s discussion on them and try to learn more about how we can have both peace and joy in our lives.

Click here to download a 30-day scripture writing program to support your study of Joy.

Joy Following Peace

I suspect that you can start feeling peace without feeling joy, but it’s pretty hard to have joy without peace. Maybe that’s just my perspective, but I see peace as the opposite of frantic worry. If your mind is scattered, latching on to all the things that you have to worry about, it’s very difficult to shift over to joy without first finding some peace.

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:6-9, NET

That sounds to me like a good foundation for joy. Training our minds to shift off of anxious thoughts and onto whatever is true, respectable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy makes it possible for us to have the perspective that joy requires. The God of peace can bring things about in our minds that surpass all understanding. He makes it so we can have peace even if there is trouble around, and joy even if there are things happening that could make us unhappy. Joy comes when we follow God’s example of peace and peacemaking.

Peace Comes as We Learn to Trust God

There aren’t a whole lot of Bible verses directly linking peace and joy. This one we’re about to look at in Hebrews doesn’t directly say that joy comes along with peace. Instead, it points out that things which don’t seem joyful at the time later produce peace and righteousness.

Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.

Hebrews 12:11-13, NET

This verse indicates joy doesn’t typically come before peace. Peace comes after we get experience going through trails with God’s help. Experiencing His faithfulness through those trials lays the foundation for a joy-filled life. The author of Hebrews also says righteousness is developed right alongside peace. That link with righteousness is particularly interesting in light of what Paul says here in Romans:

For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people.

Romans 15:17-18, NET

Joy, peace, and righteousness exist together in maturing Christians who press on faithfully toward the kingdom of God. As we learn to take refuge in God, find our peace in Him, and see Him faithfully aid us over and over again, we also realize how many reasons we have for joy (Neh. 8:10; Ps. 5:11; 16:11; 71:22-23; Is. 12:2-4; 61:10-11). Joy develops as we go through a refining process (Luke 6:22-23; Col. 1:10-11; Jam. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-9; 4:12-13). As we cultivate greater peace and joy in our lives, that lays the foundation for a perspective that can say even if everything else in my life is going badly, “yet I will rejoice in Yahweh. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Hab. 3:17-18, WEB).

Peace and Joy for Today and Forever

I live in a country where the founding documents say people here have the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” Far better than that is the promise in the “founding documents” of the Lord’s Heavenly Country where I now claim citizenship. God says joy is part of what we get when He gives us His spirit. He promises us joyful lives. There might be moments when we feel joy is elusive and need to pray alongside David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:12, WEB). But the overall trajectory of our lives is heading toward peace and joy that we can experience now, and which will be fully realized when Jesus returns.

For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky,
    and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth,
    and makes it grow and bud,
    and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
so is my word that goes out of my mouth:
    it will not return to me void,
    but it will accomplish that which I please,
    and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do.
For you shall go out with joy,
    and be led out with peace.
The mountains and the hills will break out before you into singing;
    and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:10-12, WEB

We can relax into God’s promises, knowing He’s there working to give us joy and peace. We can also be intentional about cultivating peace and joy in our lives. For example, in Paul’s closing remarks for Romans, he prays God would fill his readers with “all joy and peace,” then in 2 Corinthians he instructs his readers to “rejoice” and “live in peace” (Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 13:11). As with so many of God’s gifts, we can ask Him to give them and also do our part to make the most of these blessings.

If you look back on the verses we’ve read and referenced today, you might notice that joy and peace are connected to righteousness and salvation (Ps. 51:12; Is. 12:2-4; Rom. 14:17-18, for example). These words show up again and again in scriptures talking about joy and/or peace. That’s no coincidence. Salvation is the biggest reason we have for joy. Knowing that God loves us, forgave us, and redeemed us to welcome us into covenant with Him is a reason for joy that isn’t affected by anything happening outside us. Our relationship with God is the main reason we can have real joy. It’s also something that produces righteousness in us because the closer we stick to God, the more and more we become like Him. As we focus on cultivating peace and joy in our lives, we do well to remind ourselves of the precious gift of salvation and to pursue righteousness (Matt. 6:33; 2 Tim. 2:22). As we put God’s kingdom first, seek His righteousness, and embrace His peace, our lives will fill up more and more with joy that no one can take away from us.

Featured image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

Running After Jesus With Joy

I’ve been having a tough month in terms of mental health. Things are going well in my life but I feel anxious, stressed, and glum.

One of the things I’ve learned is that even with all the tools I have for working through emotionally tough times the things I’m struggling with don’t just go away once you slap a little prayer and therapy on them (at least not all the time). You’ve just got to keep doing things that are healthy for you, allow yourself some time to rest, ask for and give yourself grace when you make mistakes, and keep moving forward. Patience, perseverance, and asking trusted people for help are key to getting through mental health struggles just as they are with any other trials we face.

The Bible talks about our Christian life as running a race. There are times when running this race that people get off track. For example, Paul wrote to the Galatians, “You were running well! Who interfered with you that you should not obey the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you” (Gal. 5:7-10, NET). Usually when the Bible speaks of getting off-track it’s talking about sin. But I think we can also apply part of what Paul says here more broadly–the things that hinder us from running are not coming from the God who calls us to follow Him. They’re coming from an adversary who wants to see us fail; one that we can resist with God’s help.

Image of a girl sitting with her head on her arms by a lake, with this quote: “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ." the quote is by C.S. Lewis, from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.
Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Running Away Isn’t Going to Help

Everyone deals with emotional struggles and mental health issues differently, and those struggles trigger different responses in different people. I tend to withdraw, and I often feel like I want to hide or run away from something. I need to be very careful that this doesn’t make me want to run from God as well.

We’re engaged in spiritual warfare. When we choose to follow Jesus, we’re picking a side in a battle. One of the lies that the enemy tries to tell us is that if you do something God might not like it’s better to run away from Him than run to Him and ask for forgiveness and/or help. Adam and Eve tried hiding in the garden and we’ve been using the same trick ever since. It doesn’t work any better now than it did then.

We human beings are always heading on a path toward either death or life, and it’s far better to run down the path to God rather than the path toward the devil. The only people who should feel like they need to flee God are those that hate him (Psalm 68:1). He’s frightening if you’re setting yourself in opposition to Him, and people who are doing things God hates might feel the need to run when He rises up to take action (Prov. 6:16-19; Is. 59:7). Even then, though He’s astonishingly merciful to people who stop running in the wrong direction and run toward Him instead.

The times when we feel most like running away from God are often the times when we most need to run to Him for help. Whether we’ve actually done something wrong or if we’re beset by groundless fears, heading toward God is the solution. In the first situation we can ask for forgiveness and receive His grace, and in the other we can ask for His peace and receive reassurance.

Image of an eagle flying over a mountain lake, with text from Isaiah 40:31, NET version: "But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without 
growing weary, they walk without getting tired."
Image by Ondřej Šponiar from Pixabay

Running With a Free Heart

God’s people are supposed to do the opposite of what people who hate him or don’t know Him do. Jesus’s sheep run from a stranger’s voice, not taking the risk of being led away from their real shepherd (John 10:4-5). We no longer run alongside people in the world toward “lewdness, lusts, drunken binges, orgies, carousings, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3-4, WEB). Many of us used to do those things (and if we didn’t do those we committed other sins) and God forgave us, but now He wants us to flee from sexual immorality, idolatry, and all other evil desires (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:22).

People who follow God know it’s safe to run to Him. We run to God for protection (Ps. 143:9; Prov. 18:10; Jer. 16:19). We run in the straight and narrow path lit by God’s word that keeps our feet from stumbling (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 4:11-12; Matt. 7:13-14). We run to Godly things and “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11, WEB). We run like our Christian life is a marathon that we’ll finish with Jesus running right alongside us.

I run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:32, WEB

I don’t think I’d ever noticed this verse before even though I’ve read Psalm 119 countless times. It might be the translation, since the Hebrew more literally reads “for you make wide my heart,” which can be translated as something like “thou shalt enlarge my heart” (KJV) or “you have broadened my understanding” (NIV). I like this “set my heart free” translation, though. It makes me think of running across a sunlit summer meadow laughing and full of joy. That’s the emotional landscape provided by running in the path of God’s commandments. While we’re not guaranteed happiness 100% of the time, we can be full of joy. Having a heart set free accompanies God’s spirit filling us with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23, NET).

Running Well With God’s Help

We can’t do any of this joyful running without God’s help. Our success doesn’t depend on our will to run, but on God’s mercy (Rom. 9:15-16). That’s a reassuring thing, especially when our will doesn’t feel up to the task of getting out of bed in the morning much less fighting an epic spiritual battle. We can’t win this race using our own strength, but we don’t have to. We don’t even need to try; we can just ask Jesus for His strength.

That does not, however, mean we shouldn’t strive to run well. We can’t finish the race without God compassionately setting us on the right path in the first place, but we also won’t win if we sit down and give up. God’s mercy and grace should motivate us to run with endurance toward the goal He sets for us.

Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-29, NET

There isn’t just one winner in the race that’s our Christian life, but we should still imitate the high motivation of a runner who wants to achieve victory. Here, Paul highlights the self-control and discipline with which he lives his life because he knows he can’t coast into the kingdom resting on his past accomplishments (Gal. 2:1-2; Phil. 2:15-16). He was highly motivated to stick with this way of life and keep moving forward with Jesus’s strength (2 Cor. 12:7-10; Phil 4:13).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2, NET

When struggling with anxiety or other mental and emotional concerns, it helps to remember that our life is a long-term race with ups and downs. We’re not facing anything that faithful people before us haven’t dealt with as well (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 11:1-40). And we’re certainly not dealing with anything that’s too tough for our God. As we run toward Him asking for help, He will strengthen us to get through the tough patches and run the race set before us with resilience and joy.

Featured image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Our God Delights In Helping Us Succeed

There can be great peace and security in having a relationship with God. That’s something He wants us to enjoy. But if you’re struggling, feeling as if you may never measure up to God’s standards, serenity is likely the last thing you feel. It might even be discouraging to see other Christians seem so confident when you’re secretly unsure if you’ll make it through the week as a good and godly person.

One of the most comforting truths revealed in the Bible is that God wants us to succeed. His “mercy triumphs over judgement,” which in Greek means that mercy “boasts against, exalts over” judgement “in victory” (Jas 2:13, NET). When He looks at us, He hopes to see us doing well and He wants to support our growth far more than He wants to pass judgement on us. And when we slip-up or stray off the “straight and narrow” path, He’s eagerly looking for us to come back. God wants as many people as possible to be in His family, and He’s deeply committed to making that happen.

The Compassionate Father

You’re likely familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. In some translations, it’s labeled The Parable of the Compassionate, or Forgiving, Father. This name shifts our focus as we read this parable to notice the father’s role. In this parable, a man’s younger son demanded his share of the inheritance, then went off and “squandered his wealth with a wild lifestyle” (Luke 15:13, NET). Once he’d lost everything and was living destitute, barely scraping by feeding pigs, he realized he’d be better off going home even if his father only let him be a servant rather than acknowledged again as a son.

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. … the father said to his slaves, ‘Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again—he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

Luke 15: 20, 22-24, NET

This father’s joy is the same joy God and all the hosts of heaven feel when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7, 10). God has felt this joy over us; we’ve all sinned (Rom. 3:23) and we’ve all had to repent many times. We count on God’s mercy to say, “Yes, I forgive you” every time we come to Him repentant and committed to doing better.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Wanting Us To Choose Life

God sincerely “desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4, WEB). He does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9, WEB). His goal is salvation and truth for, and repentance from, everyone (with that last one connected to our acceptance of the first two). We need to opt-in to grace; God doesn’t give people eternal life unless we take Him up on His offer. But He very much wants us to accept His gift and He’s invested in our success.

“But if the wicked person turns from all the sin he has committed and observes all my statutes and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the sins he has committed will be held against him; because of the righteousness he has done, he will live. Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked,” declares the Sovereign Lord? “Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?”

Ezekiel 18:21-23, NET

We might sometimes think God seems strict or unfair, but the reality is that His whole focus is on making things turn out well for His people (Rom. 8:28). He says to people He’s working with, “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jer. 29:11, NET). That group He’s working with can include any of us; people from all sorts of backgrounds, personalities, and experiences. Through Jesus’s sacrifice, God has opened up the opportunity to live in covenant with Him to anyone who hears His voice and responds.

Invested In and Delighted With Us

God delights in people who do their best to follow Him, not in people who are already “perfect.” Which is good for us, since we’re all still quite a ways off from attaining perfection even though we’re headed that direction. What’s important to God is that we stay on the journey toward being more and more like Him.

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.

Philippians 2:12-13, NET

There are so many verses saying God delights in His people. Ps. 149:4; Prov. 11:20; 12:22; Is. 62:4-5; Jer. 32:40-41; Zeph. 3:17 are just a sample that point out He specifically delights in those who keep covenant with Him; who love and obey Him. Doing these things leads to delight for us as well (Ps. 16:11; 21:1; 37:4; 112:1; 119:16, 24, 35, 47, 77, 143, 174; 149:2; Is. 29:19). The more we delight in God and His laws, the more He delights in us. And when we do sin–since, as Paul said, it’s a struggle to do good all the time even when you delight in God’s law (Rom. 7:14-25)–then God delights in our repentance; our choice to run home to our compassionate Father.

Featured image by SnapwireSnaps from Pixabay

Holding on to Our Joy in the Lord

We don’t often give the minor prophets much attention, beyond telling the story of Jonah or studying some sections if you’re curious about future and fulfilled prophecies. I find, though, that when I do study them or run across a verse from one in word searches that their messages are often surprisingly relevant for today. The section of a minor prophet’s book to most recently catch my eye is a verse at the end of Habakkuk.

The short book of Habakkuk records an exchange between the prophet and God, then ends with a psalm/prayer. At the beginning, Habakkuk looked at the nation around him and cried out to the Lord about how “the law lacks power, and justice is never carried out” (Hab. 1:4, NET). He wants God to intervene and make things right, as so many of us want today. However, when God answers it is not the way Habakkuk hoped or expected. God says He’s going to “empower the Babylonians” (Hab. 1:6) to take over Israel.

Habakkuk is so horrified that he argues with God (Hab. 1:12-2:1). God is not obligated to explain Himself to people, yet in this case he does. He talks about how people of integrity ought to live (“the righteous will live by his faith,” see Hab 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), and contrasts how He relates to those people with what awaits the wicked. He proclaims, “Woe!” to those who’ve rejected Him and promises that “recognition of the Lord’s sovereign majesty will fill the earth” (Hab. 2:14, NET). It’s quite a lengthy response (Hab. 2:2-20), and Habakkuk seems satisfied with it since the next part of the book is a prayer, likely set to music, praising God. That’s where we’ll focus today.

Receiving Good and Evil from the Lord

Earlier, Habakkuk protested the Lord’s plan to punish His people, but now after talking with God the prophet’s perspective changed. In the prayer recorded at the end of this short book, there’s an odd mix of talking about destruction and salvation. People today often struggle to reconcile the idea of a God that would allow suffering with a God that is salvation, deliverance, and love. Habakkuk doesn’t seem to have that trouble.

Yahweh, I have heard of your fame.
I stand in awe of your deeds, Yahweh.
Renew your work in the middle of the years.
In the middle of the years make it known.
In wrath, you remember mercy. …

Plague went before him,
and pestilence followed his feet.
He stood, and shook the earth.
He looked, and made the nations tremble. …

You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the land of wickedness.
You stripped them head to foot. Selah.

Habakkuk 3:2, 5-6, 13, WEB

This reminds me of a question Job asked his wife: “Should we not receive what is good from God and not also receive what is evil?” (Job 2:10, NET). If we believe God is sovereign and that He is responsible for all the good things that happen in our lives, then we ought to trust Him through the bad things as well. There could be something going on that we don’t know about, such as Job suffering as part of God showing that one man’s faith, tested by fire, could make a cosmic difference. Or maybe God is punishing an unfaithful nation and we get caught up in that even though we’re faithful, as happened here with Habakkuk. Or maybe He’s allowing suffering in order to test, refine, and strengthen us (which is the context that the New Testament writers usually mean when they talk about God testing or trying us. See, for example, 1 Pet. 1:6-8; 4:12-13). Whatever the reason for the suffering, the message Habakkuk holds onto is that God is still worthy of trust. He has a plan. He will take salvation action. The timing for that might not make sense to us (yet), but that does not cancel-out the fact that we can have faith in the Lord’s plan and His goodness.

Holding on to Joy

At the end of the prayer, Habakkuk voices some very understandable nervousness. He talks of trembling, knowing that he “must wait quietly for the day of trouble, for the coming of the people who will invade us” (Hab. 3:17, WEB). He has talked with God about what will happen in the future, accepted the Lord’s response, and decided to trust. He is still nervous, but then he makes a very powerful statement of radical faith.

For though the fig tree doesn’t flourish,
nor fruit be in the vines;
the labor of the olive fails,
the fields yield no food;
the flocks are cut off from the fold,
and there is no herd in the stalls:
yet I will rejoice in Yahweh.
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength.
He makes my feet like deer’s feet,
and enables me to go in high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, WEB

Even if the food supply collapses and the country is overrun by invaders, Habakkuk intends to rejoice. He is not rejoicing because those bad things happen, but because they have no power to take away the true cause of Habakkuk’s joy. God is sovereign! He is salvation and strength! That’s not going to change, and holding on to that truth lets us rejoice in Him and claim Him as our savior. No matter what comes, we can imitate Habakkuk’s faith and boldly say, “I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

We Rejoice In Hope

Last week, we talked about learning to rejoice always because we know our God holds us (and everything else) in His hands. Shifting our focus to Him gives us the perspective we need to have true, lasting joy. It also gives us something else.

I quoted a definition of joy in last week’s post (titled “The Joy of the Lord”) that stated it is “acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful.” We could further simplify this definition by saying joy is a result of hope.

Hope in the Bible isn’t just a vague sense of wanting something with no guarantee it will happen, the way we often use it today when we say things like “I hope I win the lottery” or “I hope this new superhero movie is good.” Rather, it’s about an expectation that you can count on being fulfilled. It’s intimately connected to salvation (Rom. 8:24; 1 Thes. 5:8), provides comfort in sorrow (1 Thes. 4:13), and is used as a title for God (Jer. 17:13; Rom. 15:13). And it’s essential to joy.

Hope, Suffering, and Joy

Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom. 5:1-2, WEB)

“We rejoice in hope,” partly because, as Paul says later in this letter “we were saved in hope” (Rom. 8:24). Our hope and rejoicing are connected with faith and grace, as well as the glory of God. Though we don’t yet see the end result of our salvation, we hope for it and we have joy in that expectation. But that’s not all we rejoice in. Read more

The Joy Of The Lord

I think most of us have learned there are multiple words for love in the Greek language. With seven words devoted to this concept, we assume it must be important. But did you know something similar is going on with the word “joy”?

In the New Testament the primary Greek word for joy is chara or its root chario. The Greek parts of the Bible also use agalliao, euphrosure, and (more rarely) skirtao and apolausis. Hebrew has even more words for joy. The primary one is samach and its close relatives simcha and sameach. Other words for joy include chadah, sus, alats, giyl, and alaz. The words for “shout” like ranan and rua also carry a joyful meaning in certain contexts. That adds up to more than a dozen words in the Bible to describe joy!

Clearly, joy is an important concept for Biblical writers and for the cultures they lived in. This type of joy isn’t just a happy feeling, though. It’s a state of being that we can have as a result of being in relationship with God. As a fruit of the spirit, joy is present in all spirit-led Christians. This joy can be bubbly, enthusiastic, and happy (and often is), but it can also be a quiet, enduring outlook that flourishes inside us even when we don’t feel outwardly merry.

Joy Is More Than Happiness

To those in less than pleasant circumstances, commands to rejoice (like Deut. 26:11: 1 Thes 5:16) often feel insensitive. “If you knew what I was going through,” we might say, “you wouldn’t tell me to feel happy.” Nevertheless, joy is something God expects and commands from His people.

It’s a similar situation as what happens with love. God is love, and He commands us to love others even when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective. Biblical love is also something more than our modern concept of warm feelings toward someone. It’s much deeper. In much the same way, joy goes deeper than feelings of happiness. Read more