When I consider what separates Christianity from all other forms of religion, I see joy as one of our greatest distinctives.
Not happiness, but joy: deeply held hope, contentedness, peace, and optimism, no matter our circumstances.
Sometimes, the small stuff can nearly overwhelm our joy: constant schedule interruptions, lack of sleep, friction with family members. Other times, larger issues such as the death of a loved one, health problems, or financial burdens threaten to snuff it out.
But no matter our issues, they all shrink to “small stuff” when we consider their insignificance in the face of eternity. When we shift our focus from our problems to our God, he comforts us with his joy.
He reminds that it’s okay if we never understand the reasons for a particular trial. He understands, and he will cause it to bring about something better for us.
As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day. – Esther 9:22
He convicts us of our tendency to blame people and circumstances for our problems. He bids us shift the focus to ourselves, and to search out our sin.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. – Psalm 51:9, 12
He restores to us the peace we experienced at salvation, and he reminds us that no matter what else may befall us, we may always cling to the assurance of our salvation, and the certainty of his love.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. – Isaiah 61:10
He grants us the sure hope of eternal life with him.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? – I Thessalonians 2:19
And when we reflect upon all of that, joy fills and warms us, heart and soul – a steadily burning flame that cannot be quenched.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. – Psalm 16:11