I’m currently reading a book about Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. It explains how the Galatians were being tricked. False teachers wanted them to adopt Jewish customs and find security in their own efforts, rather than enjoying the freedom they had when they first put their faith in Jesus.
To the author, that’s real joy. He says: “I don’t mean being happy all the time – sometimes life is painful. But even in those moments we will find comfort in God.”
That quote was such a help to me. I think Peter pre-empted it when he said: “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, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Believing in Jesus (whom I can’t physically see) gives me a deep-down assurance that all will end well. It doesn’t lessen life’s challenges or the grief that accompanies them, but Jesus is God-with-us and now that He’s in heaven, His Spirit comes alongside Christians to comfort us in those difficulties. That kind of joy is far better to me than being happy all the time.
For anyone interested, the book I quoted from is Tim Chester’s “Rediscovering Joy: The Dynamic Power of the Reformation in Galatians”.