I have been astonished by just how prevalent joy is in the Bible. Everywhere I turn these days, there’s a new exhortation to rejoice or a deeper purpose to joy being revealed. The many meanings of joy are changing how I view God and myself and the world.
The Many Meanings of Joy: Undergirding and Strength
I cannot get over the strength of joy! May I never look at joy the same way after taking in the full passage in Nehemiah.
For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:9-10 ESV
And this verse in Jeremiah really struck me as an illustration of joy as the result of aligning with God’s heart and Word. Joy became the undergirding when Jeremiah fully received His words.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16 ESV
Joy and faith are linked by Paul. And I very much want to know more about this connection.
I do not mean that we have control of your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand by faith.
2 Corinthians 1:24 HCSB
The Many Meanings of Joy: Healing and Blessing
The more the Holy Spirit shows me about joy, the more I realize that it’s an incredibly powerful blessing. I’m not just asking God to make someone happy; I’m praying the very mystery of Christ into their life or relationship or body.
May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.
Romans 15:13 AMPC
And healing! I’ve always viewed hope as more pivotal to healing than joy, and breakthroughs in medicine seemed to support me in that. But when I read the following verse right after reading Romans 15:13, I saw that joy appears to usher in hope.
A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 AMP
There’s no contradiction, only a hidden order.
The Many Meanings of Joy: A Light in Darkness
I started down this road with a revelation about joy in response to suffering. I saw it as obedience, and I saw it as an indicator of my heart condition. But then I came to realize that joy is a heavenly state of being as well. And given that, for me to be one with Christ’s joy is to shine brightly in a time of darkness. Joy glows when the world would glower. I wonder what the fruit of joy’s beaming light in our suffering really is…
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.
James 1:2 AMP
But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.
1 Peter 4:13 AMP