Joy can be a tricky thing. Elusive. There one minute and gone the next. It feels as slippery as a bar of soap in the shower. If circumstances and kids and hormones all line up together, then we can grasp it. But we all know those rarely line up.
In some seasons, joy is easier than others. It’s smooth in the summer when the sun is shining and everything’s all warm and fuzzy. But when days grow cold and everything dies off, we begin to wonder if we’ll ever see it again.
The word joy is found in some form or fashion over 440 times in the Bible. In some cases it means to be carefree, happy, lighthearted and full of glee. In others it means calm delight, gladness and cheerfulness. Just about what you’d expect it to mean.
And I’m thankful for those times where joy is a feeling. It’s just there, rising up to meet us in the morning with no effort on our part at all.
But what do we do when joy doesn’t come in the morning? When the feeling is far away and we’re stuck in a pit of the blah’s, or worse – despair, and we need that other kind of joy?
The kind of joy found in Psalm 27:6
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
This word joy is not a feeling. It’s a verb. It means acclamation of joy, a battle cry, shouting loudly.
In this psalm, David is looking right at his enemy and this is his response. Joy.
Sometimes we look at our enemy and the situation is so overwhelming and fear is our response. Or sadness. Or depression. “What am I going to do?”
It’s at those times that we have to choose joy. We have to DO joy. Whether we feel like it or not.
And then there’s this kind of joy.
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b)
This word joy means shouting. A creaking or shrill sound (like a police siren). A cry of gladness or glee.
Then there’s the I Peter 4 kind of joy.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings… (I Peter 4:12-13)
This word means to jump for joy. Peter tells them in the midst of the fiery trial they’re going through, they should jump for joy.
I’m pretty sure you get the picture by now. Joy isn’t always a feeling. It’s optional.
Rejoice is a choice.
What do we do when joy doesn’t come in the morning?
We do it anyway. We choose it. We shout loudly. Jump for joy. Cry out with a shrill sound. Woo hoo!
We make it our battle cry.
When we don’t wake up with feelings of gladness and calm delight, we have a decision to make.
When we choose joy even though the feeling is absent, it’s an act of faith. It shows we believe God. We trust in His faithfulness and we know He’s with us and will see us through no matter what we’re facing.
Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You (In Your Presence), the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment. Psalm 16:11