I went to San Antonio for work-related business recently. While riding the bus from the airport to my hotel, a soothing baritone voice came across the intercom saying, “Approaching Joy.”
The announcement meant that Joy Street was the next cross street, but it recharged the joyful attitude that I generally experience. God wants us to enjoy this life. So, he gives us successes in many areas that are within his will along with experiences like I had on the bus (Psalm 21:1, 2; 1 John 5:14).
Although connected, joy and happiness are not the same. Recently, someone asked if they didn’t have the right to happiness. Because it was obvious that they intended to sin, my response was, “No. You have a right in America to pursue happiness, but not a right to be happy and happiness never comes through disobedience (Proverbs 10:28).”
Obedience actually brings joy as we realize the goodness of God’s laws (Psalm 119:111, 112; 15: 1-5; Romans 12:1, 2). We can always rejoice in God as our teacher and companion (Psalm 16:7-11). He won’t allow us (his holy ones – 1 Peter 1:13-16) to be abandoned to the grave of the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). Rather, he’ll fill us with joy in his presence (Psalm 21:6; 28:6, 7).
One area in which we can experience joy is forgiveness, although that doesn’t mean we should keep sinning for that grace to abound (Psalm 51:1, 2, 12; Romans 5:20 to 6:11; Acts 2:38, 39; 8:35-39; 16:30-34). Those who know me best know I’ve pulled some real winners throughout my life and some even very recently. Those are not happy days, but joy remains through forgiveness (1 John 1:5-9).
Sometimes even when we follow God’s laws, things interfere with our happiness (Ecclesiastes 8:14, 15). Even then we can find joy in tribulation because it brings us closer to God, in whom real, complete joy exists (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; Romans 12:12; Habakkuk 3:17, 18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Since God is our joy, we can confidently approach him through Jesus as our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5, 6; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 7:25; 4:16; 1 John 3:21-24). We just need to remain connected to God and focused on the end result (Isaiah 58:13, 14; Psalm 43:4; John 16:26; Hebrews 12:2, 3).
After my meetings, I took the same bus routes back to the airport. The first bus was carrying a pre-school field trip and those children were having a blast. It was such a joy to watch them that I missed my stop, which was only a minor setback. I didn’t hear the announcement that we were “Approaching Joy” on that bus ride, but I knew we must have crossed Joy Street. Christians know we have joy in the present and that we’ll have joy in the future because we’re always in God’s presence (1 John 5:13; John 16:22; 15:11; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22-25; 1 Thessalonians 1:6).
Do you see the joy in your life? Pursue that with gusto according to God’s will.