“He is not here; for He is risen …” Matthew 28:6
He is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!!
These exclamations about the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are some of the most important words ever spoken. These exclamations are more than just words, however; they are the fulfillment of all that has been promised to those who believe. And, what joy these exclamations bring to the hearts, minds, and souls of Christians! Knowing that Jesus overcame death on the cross, and showed us the way to follow Him to eternal life, brings a sense of enduring contentment and joy to us all.
Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. In the Bible, joy is noted as one of the fruits of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). Joy in our souls is actually coming from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Jesus led a loving life here on Earth, showing great mercy to others. He then went on to die a gruesome death, and yet still overcame it all. James tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2) Sometimes it is the difficult circumstances in life that force us to surrender to God, and to look to Him for strength. Then, we can ultimately ask for His will to be done in all situations, rather than “leaning on our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Truly, joy can be experienced through trials and difficult times. Knowing that our Lord is at work in our lives, even when we do not like what is going on, is a comfort. True joy does not come from anything external. It comes from within…where we find Jesus in our souls…when we realize we are here to serve the Lord, not to serve ourselves. It is clear we are meant to endure trials on His behalf, being brought closer to Him in the process.
We are told in Romans to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) If we follow these commands, we will know true joy. The hope that Jesus provided us through his resurrection, (that we, too, shall come to share in His heavenly Kingdom), gives us reason to feel joy every day. If we are patient in tribulation, accepting the fact that God is at work, we will find true joy. In doubt or despair, meditate on the following words:
Almighty God is working on my behalf, I can endure this external situation.
And finally, stay in constant prayer, and remain in communication with Him. Staying in God’s presence through prayer produces internal peace that can be equated with pure joy.
Find this peace in Him.
Nothing can prevent you from reaching this sacred place of unity with God in prayer. That intimacy is accessible at any time, and in any location; whether something difficult or wonderful is happening externally, remember that your true joy is found internally with Jesus. True joy is realized inside our souls, not outside in the material world.
Tommy Newberry puts it so well in his book The 4:8 Principle:
“Being joy filled does not mean that your life is perfect. Who could claim that? It doesn’t even mean that your life is great. What it does mean is that you emphatically trust God and believe that he has great plans for your life, regardless of what is happening right now. Joy is the infectious and uncontainable fruit of divinely inspired growth. It’s a deeply entrenched, unshakeable belief, the result of sustained right thinking and dwelling on the nature and character of God. Joy is an outward sign of inward faith in the promises of God. It is a way of acting, and it is evidence of spiritual maturity. Joy is not a distant destination at which you arrive; rather, it’s a path you choose to travel each day.”
In this season of celebration, where we contemplate Jesus’ resurrection, our minds are fixed on the blessing of knowing that our sins have been paid for, and we have been reconciled forever with God. Spring is known as a time of rebirth and renewal, with many natural symbols of joy.
Much like a beautiful butterfly coming out after being in an ugly cocoon, we have seen the beautiful resurrection coming to pass after Jesus’ ugly death.
Keep your eyes and heart focused on our beautiful reconciliation that has taken place, and renew your mind with God’s Word, that you may be filled daily with the most exceptional joy. As a child of God, you have been given the gift of joy that transcends temporary happiness in worldly circumstances.