In a time when anger, confusion, fear, and suspicion reigns, I want to turn our hearts upward. What does the Bible say about joy? Are you ready to join me is a search of the scriptures about joy and allow your heart to feel a peace that comes only from our Lord and Saviour?
Let’s study the many reasons we can embrace joy in our lives even when the world is in turmoil.
What is Joy According to the Bible?
The idea of studying joy came to me when I was reading Nehemiah and studying the “joy of the Lord is my strength” verse.
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
The story behind the verse is important. The children of Judah had been exiled to Babylon due to their idolatry. Here they lived among the heathen with no land to call their home. When the years of their punishment are finished, God stirs in the hearts of his faithful servants to start a movement to return home to the land their forefathers had been taken from.
They endure multiple trials, but they strive to rebuild what was destroyed. They ask Ezra the prophet to read to them the Law.
He stands on a wooden platform with hundreds of Jews gathered around him and begins to read the words written centuries before. With thirsty souls the people listen and suddenly the greatness of their sin and disobedience falls upon them and their hearts begin to mourn. The people cry out in repentance.
What a beautiful scene. A whole multitude of people, whose desire is to return to the Lord, raise up their voices as one and repent!
After this, Ezra and Nehemiah declare the day holy and tell the people to rejoice and be glad. They tell them to feast and be happy. Why? Because God has heard them!
The Difference Between Joy and Happiness
What is the difference between joy and happiness? What exactly is the the joy of the Lord?
I would first like to point out that happiness is an emotion and that is not what I am referring to when I say joy. Emotions are our natural reactions to situations around us.
I wholeheartedly believe that our joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Joy is the ability to be content believing that God is working all things for our good.
There is a difference between joy and happiness and while we all love the high we get from happiness, true joy is steady and dependable. It is like maturity lol wrought from experience, with a little heartache and faith mixed in.
Does Joy Come From God?
Does joy come from God? Absolutely! True joy of the Lord does. If you haven’t explored joy much, you may be surprised with the number of verses that have nothing to do with happiness. Changing our mindset can be both challenging and freeing. As you study these verses, lean into God as the source of true and endless joy. We can have the joy of the Lord for these reasons:
- Our Lord cannot be taken away from us
- Our God is always with us
- We have salvation through the blood of the lamb
- Sorrow and pain are only for a season, our joy will come
- We have hope through our Lord and Savior
- We have true peace through our God
- God hears you
I think we all think of the joy of the Lord is my strength verse, but there are so many more. Biblical joy is something we all long for, but rarely focus on. Let’s dive into some scriptures about joy!
We Have Joy Because Our Lord cannot be taken away
“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” John 16:22
True joy cannot be stolen from us. Jesus is talking to the disciples here shortly before his crucifixion. He knew his disciples would be heartbroken at his death, but He saw the bigger picture and tried to encourage them. Jesus understood what emotions his disciples would be experiencing, the doubt and fear, and then the amazing revelation of who the Son of God really is. It is that realization that brings us the joy of the Lord.
We Have the Joy of the Lord because He is with us
“Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst” Isaiah 12:6
We can embrace joy because our source is always with us. During our confusion, deep pain, anxiety, and grief, we can rest assured that we are not alone. Our source of peace is with us. This brings us joy.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Salvation Brings Us the Joy of the Lord
If I were to come up with a definition of joy in the Bible, salvation would have to be the root. Our joy was destroyed when sin entered the world. Only through salvation in Jesus Christ do have that joy restored.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold and there be no herds in the stalls, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” Habukuk 3:17-18
I love this scripture about joy from Habukuk because he declares that no matter what the world throws at him and no matter how hard life gets, He has a savior and therefore can rejoice!
“Though now you do not see him, yet believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls” 1 Peter 1:8-9
Faith and joy go hand in hand.
“I say unto you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” Luke 15:7
Joy Comes in the Morning
This is probably one of the more well known scriptures about Biblical joy. There is something comforting about knowing that no matter how full of sorrow we are, the Bible declares that joy comes in the morning.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Ecclesiastes talks a lot about seasons and I have found comfort in the idea that we all go through seasons of hurt, grief, joy, peace, hope, fear etc. These seasons cycle, always changing as we are constantly changing.
For more encouragement about seasons and the hope I’ve found in them, check out these posts.
Joy of the Lord brings us hope
If you have been with me for awhile, you will notice that I talk about hope A LOT. This is in part due to the hopelessness I felt wading through the pain of losing a child. It is also in part due to the number of people whose actions show how hopeless they feel. These feeling of hopelessness rob us of a future and destroy our present. We are never hopeless when we have Christ.
If you are feeling hopeless, lean into Christ, he will meet you when you seek him.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13
The joy of the Lord does bring us hope and that hope carries us when nothing else can! For more verses on hope check out this series.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The Bible tells us that our joy comes by looking ahead. Ahead to life after this one. We don’t need to dwell on the pain and suffering in this world because it is not our home.
For more posts on hope, check out this series!
- Bible Verses about Hope and Love: A Series to Encourage
- Bible Verses about Hope in Hard Times: A Series to Encourage
- Bible Verses about Hope and Healing: A Series to Encourage
- Bible Verses about Hope and Faith: A Series to Encourage
The Joy of the Lord brings us peace
There is a lot to feel anxious about, isn’t there and I have not hid my anxiety struggles from you. What does the Bible say about joy? It brings us peace!
“In the midst of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” Psalm 94:19
So technically, Psalm 94:19 does not use the word joy, but I think “delight my soul is close enough” 🙂
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
We should rejoice during trials? Yes, remember, true joy has nothing to do with what is going on around you. Our joy is found in Christ.
Be Joyful Because God Hears You!
What does the Bible say about joy? We have joy because God hears us.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
The Bible is full of verses about prayer, I’m just going to include this one from 1 John to prove my point about joy.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
What Does the Bible Say About Joy
I’m going to close with a quote from Charles Spurgeon, who has a rather lengthy commentary of the joy of the Lord which is much deeper than this post about what the Bible says about joy.
“But, beloved, we are not left to search for joy; it is brought to our doors by the love of God our Father; joy refined and satisfying, befitting immortal spirits. God has not left us to wander among those unsatisfactory things which mock the chase which they invite; he has given us appetites which carnal things cannot content, and he has provided suitable satisfaction for those appetites; he has stored up at his right hand pleasures for evermore, which even now he reveals by his Spirit to those chosen ones whom he has taught to long for them.” (Charles Spurgeon)
What scriptures about joy bring you hope and comfort? I’d love for you to share your favorites in the comments below!