Psalm 119:11 ESV “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.”
Psalm 119:9-10 MSG “How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.”
If we are to find our joy In God, we must make reading and studying the Bible a priority in our lives. The Bible is three basic categories; history, wisdom, and letters written from God to us. To know Him, we need to be familiar with what He’s written to us.
The book of Psalms alone is full of joy, not just in good times, but it helps us learn to develop joy in adverse situations. Philippians is a book all about joy, and Paul wrote it from prison. Real and lasting happiness is not based on circumstance but on a relationship with God. The fifth chapter of Desiring God is all about how Scripture is the kindling of Joy. Finally, the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is all about Scripture itself.
God never promised us a life of ease, but He has promised us the blessing. Yet even amid blessings, we can face things. So how was Paul writing about joy in prison? He found His delight in the relationship, not circumstance.
James 1:2-4 AMP ” Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”
Reading the Scripture chapter in Desiring God has reminded me again of the importance of time in the word. The Bible is not simply a tool to receive health or finances, life is life, and the ups and downs happen to us. Without being anchored in the Word of God, without knowing God is God, we will never be able to sustain our joy even amid challenging times, look at the life of Job.
Many times we wonder why our prayers aren’t answered; we make sure we use a verse. Maybe instead of using a verse or two in our prayers and specific situations, we should just pray the word without our spin on it, without our desired outcome attached to it; when we pray and sing the word, our attitude our atmosphere changes. It’s the Word of God that changes us. If you feel distant in your relationship with God, read through some of the Psalms, we see every emotion one could have, yet David always relied on God regardless of what was going on. We can be like David, Job, and Paul. We can develop and sustain our joy through time in God’s Word no matter what we are going through.
“Normal Christian life is a repeated process of restoration and renewal. Our joy is not static. It fluctuates with real life. It is vulnerable to satan’s attacks”. “But the Holy Spirit has given us a sword called the Word of God for the defense of our joy”. – John Piper, Desiring God