What comes to mind when you hear the word, "Joy?" You might thinking the classic Christmas song, "Joy to the World," which is not really a Christmas song. You might be equating joy with the word, "Happy."
What does it mean for the work of the Holy Spirit to give joy to the believer? Is joy like happiness? R.C. Sproul writes:
This joy is not the joy we encounter for a moment when our favorite team wins the Super Bowl. It is not that “happiness of a warm puppy”. Like transcendent agape love, the Christian's joy is a transcendent joy, a joy born of blessedness. An unbeliever experiences positive emotions that evoke smiles, but no unbeliever has ever experienced the beatific joy of salvation.
The joy of the Spirit is permanent. This year's Super Bowl winner may not make the play-offs next season. Warm puppies grow cold in the grave. The joy of salvation is forever. The victory Christ has won for us is not seasonal. The Savior never has a bad year.
The joy of the Spirit is as stable at it is exhilarating. It is the joy that abides in the midst of suffering. It has depth. It penetrates the soul. It sends despair into exile and banishes pessimism. It produces confidence without arrogance, courage without bravado. Jesus of Nazareth was able to weep. Yet His tears could not dissolve the joy He knew in His Father's house.
We rejoice in our hope. Our hope is not the fantasy of the dreamer but the assurance of the redeemed. It is the joy of those who have ears to hear the Savior's command, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Joy is knowing we have been saved by God and it cannot be taken away. Joy is knowing that no matter what happens in this world, God has not abandoned us. Happiness comes and goes like, to use Sproul's illustration, when our favorite team wins. Even when we have a bad, we can have joy knowing that God's grace is greater than all our bad days whether it is because of sin or not.
The Bible tells to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4). What reasons do we have to rejoice? Because God has saved us, He has given us eternal life through His Son. He has given us good things that we may enjoy life and treasure Him while on this earth. Tony Merida wrote, "The Spirit produces a life of satisfying joy, while living in the flesh only leads to constant dissatisfaction."