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Joy
Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Dr James H Dotson Jr

The dictionary defines joy variously as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone that provides a source of happiness; a person or thing that causes happiness.

How do I get that? How do I keep that? How do I experience joy in a life that, while it includes blessings, also includes unwanted, unexpected, and undesirable issues, problems, pain, trauma, as well as trouble and tribulation all around?

The Good and the Bad

There is no question but that I have many blessings in my life. At the same time, I have experienced and still experience some drawbacks, trouble, hurts/harms, grief, and loss, including child sexual abuse; an absent father (Dad was out of our home before I was 11-years old); loss of one kidney due to cancer; a tumor in my brain; loss of vision in one eye resulting from radiotherapy to prevent further increase/expansion of my brain tumor … 

So, how do I deal with that? And, how do I find joy in the midst of ALL the realities of my life—the good and the bad?

Temporary Happiness

Earlier in my life, I sought happiness through lots of stuff that was only temporary. I smoked, I drank, I was sexually promiscuous with many women, and for a time I pretty much did whatever I felt like doing.

But the happiness always evaporated. Yes, it was fun and cool and pleasurable at the time. But eventually, it left me unfulfilled and, sometimes, dealing with unintended consequences—often too high a price to pay for what was only temporary.

What brings you happiness? When you’re “hit in the gut” with the circumstances of your life, what or who is it that enables you to keep on going? To what or to whom do you turn to be happy?

A Sustaining Joy

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to experience a kind of happiness that is lasting and transcends the everyday realities of my life—joy

What is the source of my joy in the midst of my good AND my bad?

Allow me to share some selected passages from the Bible to answer that question.

  • ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT
  • ““Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20, NLT)
  • “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. … “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:4–11, NLT
  • “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. …” (Galatians 5:22–23, NLT
  • “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”” (Luke 11:13, NLT
  • ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1–3, NLT
  • “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33, NLT)
  • “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. … And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” … All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. …”” (Revelation 21:1–8, NLT)

My Bottom Line

There is so much more I could share with you about joy. But in the interest of time and space, let me end with this summary of how believing and living by these biblical truths in my life has and continues to bring me joy, both in the “good” and the “bad” of my life.

  1. Jesus Christ invites me into a relationship with him. It’s not mandatory or compulsory, but voluntary. I believe in Jesus and willingly accept his invitation.
  2. For me, that’s more than just head knowledge. It’s an ongoing relationship. I love Jesus and Jesus loves me; I abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in me. We are friends.
  3. Jesus is also my Savior and Lord. As I follow him, I seek to keep his commandments. This is not a checklist of do’s and don’ts I mechanically follow. Keeping his commandments flows from my loving relationship with him.
  4. But you know what? I can’t do any of this on my own. I need help—and not just once, but continuously. So, I ask my heavenly Father for help and seek day-by-day to live in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit who he willing gives to all who ask.
  5. And I am counting on and trusting God’s promise that he has a better life ahead for me at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This gives me the hope I so much need to keep journeying through life even when I face the unwanted, the unexpected, and the undesirable.

What About You?

Are you looking for joy? Do you need joy in your life?

I invite you to believe in Jesus Christ and anchor your joy in Him. 

Will that remove all issues, problems, pain, suffering, sorrow, trouble, or tribulation from your life?

No, not at all. The Bible doesn’t promise that to us in this life. (See, for example, John 16:33.)

But to those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible does promise that God will walk with us through life and will never forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

And the Bible also promises those who believe and follow Jesus Christ that God will also work all things for good (Romans 8:28), ultimately including the inheritance of a new Heaven and Earth at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:1-8Revelation 22:10-20). 

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