Its actual definition is: “The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight” (emphasis mine)
This is a really hectic time in my life, as I am sure it is in all of yours as well. You probably are better at handling the stress than I am. Oh how I hope you are better at it than me. I often find myself seriously pondering the possibility of curling up in the fetal position and closing my eyes and plugging my ears and saying, “lalalalalalalalala…I can’t hear you…”
Rest assured, I don’t actually do it.
In talking with a wise friend about the lack of joy I was feeling at what should be the MOST joyous time of the year, I was taught a very important lesson.
Joy, according to Psalm 16:11, is found in the presence of God. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This takes me back to the definition I looked up of JOY where it said the word joy is most likely related to the Greek word gēthein which means “to rejoice.”
If you combine the definition of joy found in the Bible, not Webster, with the original word in the Greek language, you get a brand new definition of joy. It would read something like this: Joy is found sitting in the presence of the Lord Almighty, rejoicing at who He is and what He has done for you and for me.”
Now, I don’t think Webster will add that to his esteemed dictionary but I am OK with that, because my standard has to be set higher than Webster. My definition and my life have to be set by the bar of God’s Word. Anything else is less than worthy of my time and will surely steal my (true) joy.
Obviously, I have let the emotions of this busy time be my focus instead of pausing and rejoicing and praising God for allowing us to celebrate the time when He sent His Son to earth as a baby to be our sweet Savior. I have spent my December being more like Martha in Luke 10, busy with the “stuff” to do instead of like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet and soaked in His essence, His wisdom and His peace. Jesus even said to Martha that Mary had chosen wisely—“the good part”. I can’t help but think that the “good part” He was talking about is the part of Psalm 16:11 where it says, “Your presence is fullness of joy.”
Mary was full of joy because she was fully in the presence of Jesus. Martha, I am pretty sure, was sulking and murmuring while she did “all the work” but also while she missed out on the presence of the Lord in her house (or her heart).
So instead of focusing on the emotional side of joy, I am choosing to focus on Him and all He has done in order for me to have the privilege to sit at His feet and soak up His presence. I will pray that He helps me get everything done that is left to do, but I WILL NOT steal my own joy by murmuring and complaining about the work left to do.
Going back to the bolded part of the definition above—“possessing what one desires”—made me pause and think and do a heart check. What are my desires now? Right this moment what do I desire most? Before I began this lesson I would probably say my strongest desire was to finish my Christmas shopping. I see now how out of focus my life has been. I had to ask for forgiveness for being so concerned with things of this world that I missed my mission—to be in His presence at all times.
And when my life’s focus gets clear, I see that my desires change. They change from being worldly to being desperate to feel Him near, to hear His voice, to follow His ways. And when I refocus, I find that joy is not hard to find. It isn’t necessarily a bubbly feeling, but it is there and it runs deep and its potential is unending!
So I pray that joy steals your heart today and you find yourself basking in the presence and love of a Savior King, who came to earth as a baby to show you His way, His truth and His light.