Joy, true joy, is a supernatural work of God in the soul of a believer. To be truly joyful is to have a deep-seated satisfaction in God alone, irrespective of the various circumstantial storms that may be raging.
It is a moral imperative that we be satisfied in God alone. It is a moral imperative that we be joyful:
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always;
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
And yet, though joy is a moral imperative it is also something that only God can do in us. There are paths (e.g. Word, Fellowship, Prayer, etc.) that God has ordained that He regularly bestows upon His children this gift of joy in our lives, but if we are to be joyful it will be because of the work of God in and through us. Why do I say that?
Well, joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
1 Thessalonians 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When the Temple was being rebuilt during the time of Ezra, Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread were observed once again and there was great joy. Why?
Ezra 6:22 And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Did you catch the key phrase in that verse? They had joy for the LORD had caused them to rejoice.
Joy is a moral responsibility that only God can produce in the heart of a believer. So if you are a born again through faith in Jesus Christ alone, this supernatural gift is for you. You have the Spirit of God at work in your life and you have every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. You can confidently expect that God is able and will produce this fruit of joy in your life.
Moral responsibility of joy vs. Supernatural Gift of Joy. What is the Christian response to this often repeated tension throughout Scripture? If we are required to be joyful, but only God can produce it in us, how might we obtain this supernatural gift of joy?
The Psalmist understands and so must we:
Psalm 85:6 Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?
Joy is a responsibility, but joy is also a gift from God to us in Christ. How might we lay hold of this gift? By prayer. Pray that God will cause you to rejoice. Pray that He will employ His ordained and perscribed means of grace in your life to bestow this gift up on you. He is a good Father. He gives good gifts to His children. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13). Live in the tension. Be joyful. God causes His people to have joy in Him.