Joy is a fruit of the spirit. It is actually the second fruit of the spirit and it is so much more than happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances.
When we get a promotion at work or someone tells us they love us those are things that make us happy. The fruit of the spirit are a physical manifestation of our life when it is transformed by the saving blood of Jesus.
When we are saved, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to help us. The more we let the Holy Spirit take control of our lives, the more the fruit of the spirit will manifest themselves in our lives.
Good Fruit or Bad Fruit?
Love is the first fruit and it is the foundation for all the other fruit of the spirit including joy. When the Bible talks about the fruit of the spirit, what exactly does that mean?
I think of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:18,
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
Matthew 7:18 NIV
For example, if you have an apple tree in your yard that produces big, beautiful apples every year, it is doing what it is supposed to do. It is bearing good fruit. If however, your apple tree hasn’t produced any apples for years, it isn’t doing what it is designed to do.
Joy in the Midst of Suffering
In the same way, when we let the Holy Spirit have his way with us, the fruit of the spirit, including joy, will become more evident in our lives and in deeper ways. It won’t matter what difficulties you may be facing. The Joy of the Lord, and the other fruits of the spirit, will fill you to overflowing. It will be your strength.
Can I be happy in the midst of suffering? I believe that the answer to that is clearly “Yes.” You can look throughout the Bible and see evidence of this throughout.
One example is in 1 Thessalonians when Paul is longing to see the Thessalonians,
“But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. he reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.”1 Thessalonians 3:6-9 NLT
God is the Source of Our Joy
It says in Psalms,
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”Psalm 94:18-19 MEV
In both of these examples, there are references to trouble, suffering, and anxiety. But at the same time, there is the joy that God gives us if we press into him. God is the source of our joy and our strength. By looking to Him instead of our problems or circumstances we can have that same joy.
This is possible because joy is based on who God is and what He has already done for us. It is not based on circumstances that continually change. It is much more than just a feeling of happiness. But joy can transform your life as you press in deeper to God and let him fill you with the Holy Spirit and work in your life.
No matter what you are facing, press in to God, trust Him and He will fill you with His joy. He will be your strength.
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