Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
I Peter 1:8 NIV
Joy hasn't come easily for me. Maybe it's my chronic melancholy. But it's not how I see and experience life. As much as I wish it were different my natural drift is not to 'live in the moment' or 'celebrate life' but to worry and see a catastrophe just around the corner. And can I get stuck in un-joyful (okay obsessive) thoughts and feelings.
Yet joy is described as the natural fruit of loving and trusting God more deeply. Joy shows up everywhere in the Scriptures. There was a time in my spiritual journey when I was frustrated by the obvious gap. Today I see it more as the slow and steady work of the Spirit in my life. Joy is not something I try harder to produce but something that emerges from a life of steady dependence.
I also think differently about what joy looks like these days.
- Joy is quiet trust in God when I feel helpless and inadequate
- Joy is a calm confidence when facing adversity
- joy is my internal world being peaceful and settled whatever is going on with my external world
- Joy is a hope-filled outlook on the future
It's quite freeing when we begin to live from a place of gratitude for what the spirit is gradually producing.
I recently spent an evening encouraging a friend who is facing a challenging season he's not sure he can endure. This is a portion of a note I received from him this week.
Maybe instead of thinking of joy as a smile on your face or lightness in your voice ... maybe it's just the peace of knowing and believing that God has the situation under control, the gladness that he has it, so you don't have to. It might be hard for a chronic melancholic to display the former, but you surely display the latter, and that gives me joy.
There is something wonderful and mysterious about God changing us in deep ways. Not sure I have words to describe it.
Inexpressible and glorious seem to fit.