(def)The emotion expressed by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; DELIGHT. The expression or exhibition of such emotion; GAIETY. A state of happiness or felicity; BLISS. A source or cause of delight (definitions from www.merriam-webster.com).
As I was researching for this blog post, I learned something new. According to Merriam-Webster, the word, “joy”, can also be used as a verb. As I reflect on this, I am hard-pressed to think of a sentence that uses this word as a verb. Can you?
I love this idea though, that joy can be active and not passive. That it can be a verb. We choose to embrace joy. We can choose to give joy to others. We are meant to find joy in this life, but this world and the things in it are not the source of true joy. We can seek the kind of joy that flourishes in our souls, despite our circumstances or whether or not we “possess what [we] desire.” Indeed, the apostle Paul even declared his contentedness while being imprisoned for the gospel (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV).
Have you ever experienced that kind of joy? The kind of joy that makes every trial in this world melt away?
I wonder how often I have. But getting to know my friend and sister in Christ, Maria, was teaching me how. To know her was to truly love her.
Maria embraced life fully and lived with an intentional and active joyfulness. When she entered the room, you could almost feel a shift in the energy. She actively participated in life, and when there was music playing, she would most certainly be right in the center of the dance floor. She loved to dance, and it is no surprise that the man she chose to marry would be a part-time DJ (although they did not share the same taste in music). She prayed faithfully for her husband-before they even met, and for the relationship to be rooted in their shared faith in Christ at each step-from dating to engagement to marriage. I am certain that she also prayed for many of you reading this now as she did for me. Maria had an incredible warmth, kindness and compassion for others. She also had a whip smart sense of humor that would make you laugh until there were tears in your eyes. When she saw you, she would greet you like she had not seen you for years, wrapping you up in a warm, fierce bear hug. I will miss those hugs.
For my part, I freely admit that there have been times in my life when I have sat on the sidelines, wanting to join in on the action on the dance floor. A learned fear taught me to remain hypervigilant, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But guess what-the other shoe always drops-and living in fearful anticipation of pain or trauma only steals today’s joy. Maria knew this, and she chose to “do things afraid”, resting secure in the future eternal joy she would have in heaven.
This is what an encounter with Christ can bring into your life. It will bring “a peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV) despite your circumstances. It will teach you to learn to trust what the Lord brings into your life, both good and bad experiences, knowing “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). And when you trust in what and who God brings into your life, you will experience more glimpses of contentedness, peace and joy in ways that you have never experienced before. This I have started to see in my own life.
I love the definition of the Greek word for joy, chara, that is used in the New Testament:
It means “joy, gladness, a source of joy. From chairo; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight.” What a beautiful image the words, “calm delight”, create.
Choose joy each and every moment, and enjoy the calm delight that only faith in Christ can bring.