Would you be willing to make great sacrifices or even do bizarre things? Most people would be willing to be and do almost anything to live a life of joy and success. In our text the Psalmist tells us simply that our lives will be characterized by joy and success when we are delighting in and doing what the Lord wants in our lives, and when we are constantly meditating on His Word.
Most people want to experience joy in life. In fact, when surveyed, most people respond that their ultimate goal in life is to “be happy.” The Bible affirms the need for happiness, but it goes on to say that something greater, a supernatural, incredibly satisfying joy can and should be experienced in our lives.
Second Question – “What is the difference between ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’?” Happiness depends on our circumstances or “happenstances.” For most people, if their circumstances are good, they can be happy. But when their circumstances are not good, they are not happy. In other words, their happiness depends on the quality of the circumstances and relationships around them. On the other hand, joy is a satisfying, supernatural and strengthening peace that can be experienced and expressed at all times, even in times of adversity. Happiness in our lives is dependent on our circumstances, but joy in our lives is dependent on our relationship with the Lord – and as long as our relationship with Him is strong, we can have peace, happiness, serenity and supernatural faith even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Third Question – “What keeps people from daily experiencing the ‘joy of the Lord’ in their lives?” Sometimes people don’t have joy in their lives because they may struggle with secret sins or unforgiveness, or they have a “victim’s mentality,” or they are negative and critical. People lack joy for various reasons. In our text it’s pointed out that “hanging out” with the wrong kinds of people robs us of joy and success in life. The Psalmist writes: “Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers.” Have you ever allowed ungodly advice, ungodly people or critical and negative people rob you of your joy in life? We all have – but if we will choose the right friends and experience the right kind of fellowship, it will bring joy to our lives.
Another reason people don’t experience joy in their lives is because they are not “delighting in the Lord” and in what the Lord wants for their lives. It has been my experience that when people are self-focused or even focused on others, they tend to lose their joy because selfishness brings sadness to our lives and others will eventually let us down. However, when our focus is on knowing, living for and serving the Lord, He never disappoints us and therefore we experience joy rather than discouragement in our lives.
Another reason people don’t continually experience joy in their life is because they don’t know and meditate on His Word. The Psalmist writes that joyful people meditate on the Word (Law) of God day and night. Why does meditating on God’s Word bring us joy? Because when we hear, read, study and meditate on God’s Word we hear the Lord speaking to us and we learn His promises to us – and when we become aware of God’s love and promises for us, it brings supernatural and satisfying joy to our lives.
According to our text, supernatural joy comes into our lives when we choose the right relationships, delight ourselves in living for and serving the Lord, and learn God’s Word. Would you be willing to make those principles a priority in your life in order to daily experience God’s joy in your life?
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you what or who is stealing the joy from your life; 2) Pray for the Lord to give you direction as to what steps you need to take to move from circumstance-based happiness to Christ-based joy; and 3) Pray for the Lord to prosper your life and the lives of others.