What brings you joy? Is it cooler weather and football season? Is it getting a bonus at work? Is it playing music in front of an adoring crowd? Do you love sitting in silence with your morning coffee? Is it binge-watching your television favorite shows online? Details aside, we’ve all had glimpses of what it’s like when everything seems right with the world. These are life’s little “sweet spots.”
However, there are times when our seasons of contentment are interrupted or even completely eliminated. What then? We all know the script: feeling happy isn’t the same as experiencing the true joy that only comes from the Lord. But isn’t it true that we often feel out of touch with that deep joy we’ve heard about in sermons? That abiding joy we sing about on Sunday mornings and read about in Scripture? Why is it so hard to keep that joy in our hearts?
I’m willing to bet I’m not the only Christ-follower who wants to plant his feet on the firm foundation of that “inexpressible and glorious joy” that comes with knowing and loving Jesus (1 Peter 1:8), but when it comes down to it, moments of disappointment and deprivation find us feeling bereft of joy. Too often, our circumstances dictate the disposition of our hearts.
This is precisely when we must remember that joy is not something we can manufacture, nor is it something our daily experiences can sustainably provide. The joy of the Spirit is something God cultivates in us—a fruit we get to enjoy by the hand of the Master Gardener.
Joy of the ineffable, unshakeable variety is one of the heavenly attributes that grows within us when our hearts make a home for the Holy Spirit. When Paul writes, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13), we take note that joy begets hope. And what does hope do? Hope gets us out of bed in the morning. Hope reminds us of the truth so we can press on. Hope drives us back to Scripture where we find the encouragement to keep running into the arms of Jesus, whence that deep abiding joy derives.
The next time one of your “sweet spots” is interrupted or removed, run to Jesus with a needy heart. Humble yourself under the hand of God and ask the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in you. Remember that He is your portion and that the beautiful inheritance He has promised is irrevocably yours in Jesus. Then, even in the darkest of times, His joy will make your heart glad, your whole being rejoice, and even your body rest securely (Psalm 16:9).
Just as it takes daily work to tend a garden, so must we cultivate a daily habit of humbly returning to our God. When our heart, mind, and will are attuned to His, He grows and shares His perfect joy and peace with us.
Written by Alex Florez