I will never forget the intense feeling of joy I experienced when I first met Jesus. I remember the drive to church that day, my eighteen-year-old self sitting sullenly in the back seat and staring out of the car’s window. I uttered a silent prayer to God asking, “If you exist you better show me because I don’t feel a thing.” 

During the sermon that morning, the Holy Spirit came over me and I began to weep. I no longer felt nothing. I could not only feel God’s presence but could feel his changing effect on me. I was overcome by such love, peace, and joy within. It was as though I could suddenly fully see and feel. After feeling so dull and lost, this intense joy was a beautiful awakening. In an instant, God had displaced my sin and filled me with everything of Him.

God’s joy cannot be compared to feeling happy. The joy God offers isn’t fleeting happiness that arrives as a result of fortunate circumstances such as a lovely time with friends, a delicious meal, or receiving a nice gift. While each of those is a wonderful blessing, God’s joy exists independent of circumstances and is ever available. I’ve noticed that even in the most tumultuous of times, God’s joy can be found. 

Joy is fashioned out of a relationship with the Joy-Giver. The infusion of joy that swept into my soul the day I met God was a result of my new-found relationship in Christ. The forgiveness I experienced in Jesus, combined with being set free of the sin that bound me, enabled joy to flourish. 

As we journey with God and remain in close communion with him, we access his joy on a regular basis. Our tastes change and instead of searching for happiness in the fleeting pleasantries the world offers, we are more apt to find lasting joy and contentment in the things of God and in the everyday beauty all around us. God’s joy is a soul-stabilizer, steadying us and equipping us with daily delight. 

This Christmas season, my prayer for you is that you would draw near to Jesus, and receive his offer of love, peace, and JOY!

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9