Joy is a quality of the spirit. It is beyond what is happening on the outside but what is going on in the inside in the work of the Spirit.
It is an expression of the glow of the Spirit within you, and a sign of your inner life, of the change taking place in you by the working of God in you. While the enemy’s plan is to stark things up against you on the outside, God wants to do the same on the inside, stacking his grace up on your inside, his power, his joy. When we embrace our spiritual reality, we experience joy.
Habakkuk said that he would rejoice in God even if he does not have all he wanted (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Joy is a mark of heaven, and not of material possession.
In Christ, heaven in in our hearts, and we are inwardly changed, and now moved by things in heaven and not on earth (Colossians 3:1-4). That change comes when the Spirit of God comes to live in us. The joy we feel is generated from the throne of God which is now located in our heart (Hebrews 6:18-19), and where we are now located in a spiritual sense.
Jeremiah said: your words were found and I ate them, and they have become the joy and rejoicing of my heart (Jeremiah 15:16). That means there is a joy factor in the word. That is what Peter meant when he told Jesus: this is the reason why we cannot depart from you- you have the words of eternal life, marked by joy everlasting (John 6:68).
In 1Samuel, we read that at the time of Samuel, there was no open vision and the word of God was scarce (1Samuel 3:1). That was definitely a sad time in Israel.
When the word does not come there is spiritual starvation, there is no spiritual excitement as the word of God is the heavenly bread. What they experience was spiritual drought. In another place in the bible, God in judgment said that he was going to send a special famine, which is the famine of hearing the word of God and not of crops (Amos 8:11). There is nothing pleasant, joyful about natural drought, talk-less of the spiritual one.
When people have natural food they think they are full but in the spirit they may really miserable because they are empty of the word of God (Revelation 3:31-34). Real food, where real satisfaction comes from, real joy, comes from the word of God.
When the word of God, Jesus, manifested on the earth, the bible noted that an angel said: that will be the source of great joy for many people (Luke 2:10). When Jesus said that his meat is to do the will of God, doing his work, he was telling the disciples about the source of his joy (John 4:31-34). That means he would be restless if not doing the word of God, the will of God, neither would be energised.
That was why during a feast in Jerusalem to which his brothers thought he should go, Jesus said (hinting at how committed he was to the will of God) that he can only move if God was moving him, that his timing was different from theirs (John 7:1-10); his from spiritual observation, theirs from natural.
He choose the path of joy, the part of alignment with the will of God. Enoch we were told walked with God and was no more for God took him (Genesis 5:21-24). He was definitely a man of unquenchable joy because of that. Similarly, Jesus was not a man in the crowd, he stood out from it because of his commitment to the will of God.
The bible says in the presence of God there is fullness of joy and on his right hand are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11). So apart from the word, in the place of prayer we also get to encounter unspeakable joy.
Many understand what it means to rejoice sometimes, but rejoice always!? That means we should be happy all the time, high on God all the time. But is that not unrealistic? But the things of God are not realistic, they are supernatural. Since the joy does not depend on us, being the joy of the Lord, being the joy that the Holy Spirit generates, that he makes possible.
The bible says that we should not be drunk with wine wherein in excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20). So the reality of the Holy Spirit in our life makes it possible for us to rejoice always, because that joy is in the Lord, in recognition of his lordship and how he favours us, how we are the object of his love, how he is in total control of everything to our advantage.
Paul wrote that if we understand the height, length and breadth of the love of God we will be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-21). And with that we would feel the radiance of his love, the impact of his life, and the intensity of his presence. As mentioned earlier, the bible says that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy and on his right hand pleasures forever more. It is that “more” that leads to overflowing joy in us.
Joy is also a function of interpretation of events. James wrote: count it all joy when you fall into diver’s trial, knowing that tribulation works patience and is part of your maturing process (James 1:2-4).
So you look at the end from the beginning, from the eyes of God; that all things work together for you, for your good, who love God and are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). You are joyful because God is for you, that you are the sheep and he is the shepherd (Psalm 100:3), that you are safe, secure with him, who is ready to help you (Psalm 20), build you up and not pull you down.
Rejoicing is manifested in various ways, through singing, dancing. Paul wrote that we should let the word of Christ dwell richly in us, and that will make us sing with melody in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16). The words of our songs are manifestations of the joy in our heart, of God’s place in our life, how because of him we have come from death to life.
Can you imagine the level of joy and excitement in the hearts of the children of Israel when by the mighty hand of God they were freed from the servitude in the Egypt, the place of tears and pain and death for them (Exodus 15:1-21)? They could not help but sing. They said: I will sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and his riders he has thrown into the sea. They came from death to life.