What does “joy” mean to you? If you’re a follower of God, is that a “joyful” experience? If you’re not, can you still say your life is “joy-filled”? What does the term “joyful” even mean?
From a Christian perspective, I’m taking “joy” as from the fruits of the spirit described by Paul in Galatians:
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. —Galatians 5:22-23, AMP
From a Merriam-Webster perspective, “joy” is described as:
1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion.
2: a state of happiness or felicity; bliss
3: a source or cause of delight
The Amplified version of the Bible also uses the word “gladness”:
1: archaic : having a cheerful or happy disposition by nature
2 a: experiencing pleasure, joy, or delight. b: made pleased, satisfied, or grateful.
3 a: marked by, expressive of, or caused by happiness and joy. b: causing happiness and joy; pleasant
4: full of brightness and cheerfulness
Would others use these descriptors of you? Does that sound like your walk with God? Does that sound, in general, like your walk through life? Why, or why not? Take a moment to examine your reaction to those definitions in light of scripture. Substitute a few other words; delight, pleasure, grateful(ness), cheerfulness.
Go ahead . . . I’ll wait . . .
Does your walk with God, your life following Holy Scripture, evoke those particular adjectives? Apart from God, does your life reflect gratefulness, or “the emotion evoked by well-being”?
Personally, I think these definitions fit nicely into the idea of peace that I touched on within my post entitled “Question: Why Do I Need Something Else?”, namely;
“… to be at peace with all you don’t have. That not only applies to the material “stuff” in the world, but to relationships, to achievements, to a planned-out, certain future, etc.”
I think it’s quite an achievement to find peace, or joy, or gladness, or “the emotion evoked by well-being”—whatever you want to call it—despite your circumstances, not because of them; to have “well-being, success … or the prospect of possessing what one desires” regardless of the “stuff” you own, the title after your name, the money in your I.R.A.
Living outside of yourself, your own needs, your own wants, frees you to see the world with a whole new perspective. Not necessarily to feed all the starving children in Africa (although, if that’s your call, more power to you), but to see, and be able to respond, to the needs of your own family, your immediate circle of friends, your co-workers, and on and on.
Seeing—and most importantly being able to respond to, and fulfill—those needs will soon make you realize that what you’ve got is often . . . enough. To be able to help, or at least have the willingness to try, is often where the “source or cause of delight” emanates from. After all, how do you feel being able to do something that someone else appreciates? How does it feel to be able to provide something that someone else needs, that it’s “no big deal, I had an extra one.”? Could it be that that feeling is, “the emotion evoked by well-being (in being able to do the right thing), success (at being able to help), good fortune (at having the means to help) or the prospect of possessing what one desires (that “one” not necessarily meaning “you”)?
… just a thought.
Overall, I think the key to it all lies in the Amplified versions additional definition of the fruit of the spirit, “[the work which His presence within accomplishes]“: A work, or a change, that comes from within, that lets you be filled with a joy in knowing all that you can do without.
Again, just a thought.