Wednesday, January 17, 2007


So, I have decided that I have no understanding of what "joy" is.

Deuteronomy 28: 46-48 (AMP)
46They shall be upon you for a sign [of warning to other nations] and for a wonder, and upon your descendants forever. 47Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you], 48Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things; and He will put a yoke of iron upon your neck until He has destroyed you.

Apparently I need to know what joy is, based on this verse out of Mosaic Law. So, I begin my quest. According to the dictionary and other people "joy" is defined as follows:

"Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good." Locke.

That which causes joy or happiness. " A thing of beauty is a joy forever." Keats.

Webster's dictionary & others: The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.

synonyms: happiness, pleasure, enjoy, rejoice, gaiety, delight, bliss
antonyms: saddness, despair, grief, unhappiness, misery, sorrow

New Cathoic Dictionary:
The passion opposed to sadness, and arising from the possession of a desired or coveted object; one of the fruits of the Holy Ghost; an effect also of contemplating the sacred mysteries of the Resurrection, Ascension, and Coming of the Holy Ghost.

Holman's Standard Version's definition

Strong's & Amplified results:
joy: (to) rejoice, exult(atation), glad(ness), to tremble from fear, triumph, ringing cry of entreaty, supplication in proclamation, joy, praise, cry, shout, display joy, to rejoice (arrogantly), exult (at) , to rejoice (religiously), merry, you who rejoice, showing joy, mirth, gladness, gaiety, pleasure, joy (of God), glad result, happy issue, alarm of war, war-cry, battle-cry , blast (for march) , shout of joy (with religious impulse) , shout of joy (in general), alarm, signal, sound of tempest, shout, shout or blast of war or alarm or joy, good cheer, to glory (whether with reason or without), to glory on account of a thing, to glory in a thing, to rejoice, be glad, to rejoice exceedingly, to be well, thrive, in salutations, hail!, at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute, the joy received from you, the cause or occasion of joy(of persons who are one's joy), favored with blessings, made blissful, blessed, satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions, happy, blithesome, spiritually prosperous, the delight, the blessedness, delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture, enrapture, with a happy heart

have joy: to be useful, to profit, help, to receive profit or advantage, be helped [or have joy]

turn into joy: to leap/dance/spring

enjoy: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider, have vision, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, discern, distinguish, give attention to, to be seen or cause to see, to cause to look intently at, behold, cause to gaze at, to look at each other, face, to seize, dispossess, take possession off, inherit, disinherit, occupy, impoverish, be an heir, come to poverty, be poor, to cause to possess or inherit, to cause others to possess or inherit, to be pleased, be determined , to make acceptable, satisfy, to be accepted, to seek favour of, to make oneself acceptable or pleasing, to be pleased with, be favourable to, accept favourably, to hit the mark (of one discharging a javelin or arrow), to reach, attain, obtain, get, become master of, to happen, chance, fall out (to specify, to take a case, as for example), to meet one, of he who meets one or presents himself unsought, any chance, ordinary, common person, to chance to be, enjoyment

shout/sing for joy: to overcome, to be overcome, to cry out, shout for joy, give a ringing cry (in joy, exaltation, distress), to cry aloud (in summons, exhortation of wisdom), to cause to ring or sing out (for joy), rejoicing (participle)

Verses that are making me think about "joy"...
I Chronicles 16: 26-29
For all the gods of the people are [lifeless] idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 27Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary. 28Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, 29Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array.

Ezra 6:22
They kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria [referring to Darius king of Persia] to them, so that he strengthened their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Nehemiah 8: 10b
And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.

Psalm 97:11-12
11Light is sown for the [uncompromisingly] righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection]. 12Rejoice in the Lord, you [consistently] righteous (upright and in right standing with God), and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.

2 Corinthians 8:2-4
2For in the midst of an ordeal of severe tribulation, their abundance of joy and their depth of poverty [together] have overflowed in wealth of lavish generosity on their part. 3For, as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily, 4Begging us most insistently for the favor and the fellowship of contributing in this ministration for [the relief and support of] the saints [in Jerusalem].

Hebrews 12: 10-13
For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness. 11For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness--in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 12So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees,(A) 13And cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet [yes, make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction], so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured.

I still don't understand "joy" though I am convinced that the dictionary is wrong. Their definition is that it is an emotion but I've always been taught that "happiness" is the emotion because it is temporary..."joy," on the other hand, is permanent, a state of being. Now, my brain knows that but my heart is highly unsure then what "joy" is if it is not felt. How then is joy any different from hope, peace, or faith? Is a sense of peace really joy? Is there any feeling or sense that lets you know you are joyful? How do you know you have joy if there is no emotion or sense of it in the natural? Is joy wholly supernatural and never felt? If the opposite of joy is sorrow then how is joy different from happiness? If I am to command my soul to rejoice then am I to command my soul to have joy? Or can only God grant joy? What then does the "fullness of joy" (Ps. 16) look like? What does the joy set before me look like? Is that different than the hope of my calling? How do I trade sorrow for joy if I feel only heaviness, despair, dullness, and fatigue? Sure I have happy/good days from time to time but those are like the wind therefore that cannot be the same as "joy" if joy is a permanent state of being. If "in His presence is fullness of joy" then have I ever truly been in His presence?...


Tamara said...

I love that you ask such questions. I would agree that the dictionary is way off. I actually HATE the part about joy having anything to do with circumstance and aquistion of goods. I think joy far exceeds that. As you know I struggle with this fruit of the Spirt more than any other. Not because I am not joyful. There are times that I am. But there are prevading fears and struggles that attempt to steal my joy. So I know it is important. So I am in this battle with you!

Tamara said...

PS: I commented on your last comment. I wasn't refering to Will Ford in that recent post. The situation I know sounded similar. But, actually I am able to hear those words in this current season. I was refering to another time.

Joshy said...

Ok I am now convinced I need to blog on this subject! Before I do that however check out my blog for two resources from John Piper on Joy. These sermons literally changed my life. Joy is a commandment but it is not meant to be a weight around our necks, "oh I have to be joyful now or else God will get me" It is an invitation to leave the tyranny of circumstance behind and KNOW the joy of your certain inheritance! Some of which is for you here and NOW! God spoke a phrase to me which I have to study out now but it resounds in my heart. That phrase is this: "The burning I am calling you to is the burning of delight!" Life sucks but God is beautiful even in the suckyness (is that a word?) love you sis! Stay tuned to from him through him to him. blogspot for the joy blog!