Before much longer I found Romans 5:1-3. Those three things are not three separate items, as if they can be chosen one without the other, they are a chain reaction. I am justified (made righteous), and as a result have peace with God, and that creates joy in my life.
Keep reading down to verse 5 in Romans 5, then add 12:12 and 15:13 to the mix and you see that joy is inextricably bound with hope. The Greeks did not use “hope” the way we use it, a wish for something that could go either way, but as a confident assurance or, as Keith likes to say, “a vision of a certain future.” Along with the apostle John in 1 John 5:13, I should be able to say, “I know I am saved; I know I have been forgiven; I know I have a relationship with God; I know I am going to Heaven.” Is there anything that should inspire any greater joy?
Being joyful does not mean we may not face sad times; it does not mean we must not ever grieve in a trial. What it does mean is that we will bounce back from those times because joy is the foundation for our lives. If, instead, I come through a trial with an attitude only toward myself, what I have endured, and what I believe others should be doing for me because of it, my joy has turned into bitterness. In fact, I have not successfully endured that trial at all. Whenever I allow something to smother my joy, in at least that much I have allowed that thing to be more important to me than my relationship with God.
This is easier said than done. I used to wonder how to have this joy that everyone kept telling me I was supposed to have. God does not leave us without direction. Col 1:9-14 gives us several techniques for having joy. Be filled with the knowledge of Him; walk worthily of the Lord; bear fruit in every good work; give thanks for our salvation. Do you know what that boils down to? Focus on the good things and stay busy serving others.
Joy is like a glow-in-the-dark toy. The more I focus on what God has done for me and what he expects me to do for others, the longer I sit in the light and the stronger my glow will be. But if I sit too long in the shadow of sadness and grief, focusing too long on myself, my joy will begin to fade until eventually it is gone altogether.
If you find yourself alone in the dark today, it’s time to come back into the light before your joy disappears, along with the hope that reinforces it. This is a choice you make, one that has nothing to do with what happens today or what anyone does to you, but with the path you choose to take regardless.
That the proof of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen you love; on whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:7-9.