“J” – A to Z Challenge


The word “joy” has always been special to me. I grew up being reminded of this word when my parents used my full name. Donna Joy. Occasionally my dad still calls me by my first and middle name. It still sounds good.


jI passed the name Joy to my daughter. Her name is Bethany Joy. And she liked it so much she shared it with her daughter, my granddaughter, Joy Marie. Of all the names in our family, I never thought that Joy would be the name that would continue through generations.


But I’m also excited that it is. Mainly because of what this tiny, three-letter word means to the Christian. Joy is one of the characteristics that we are to possess, expose, create, and enjoy. Joy should be evident in our lives, regardless of what our circumstance. It’s in these moments that others are able to look at us and notice that something is different.


So what is joy?


According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, joy is “the happy state that results from knowing and serving God.”[i]


Holman goes on to say, that “joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something people can create by their own efforts.” No wonder we live in a world where possessions mean so much to people. No wonder folks are searching for the next big thing. If they aren’t looking to God for their joy, they will never find it any place else.


King David knew that his joy was found in God. Take a look at a couple of verses from the Book of Psalm.


“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasure at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 – NIV)


“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8 – NIV)


“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12 – NIV)


David knew that being in God’s presence, following God’s precepts and living in God’s salvation is what brought joy to his life. Oh yes, there are plenty of passages in Psalm that take the reader into David’s joyous heart, but without this firm foundation of joy, nothing else would have mattered.


It’s the same for us. When we are secure in our relationship with God, when we know and follow God’s precepts, when we have accepted God’s salvation, it’s then that we can live lives filled with joy.


Earlier, the biblical definition of joy mentioned that it wasn’t something we could gain on our own. It was from God. In fact, it is a fruit of God’s Spirit. When we live by the Spirit, we will produce the following fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).


And if you recall, Jesus mentioned in John 15 that the only way we can produce abundant fruit is by remaining in Him. And there is our tiny word again. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11 – NIV)


Here’s the tough part for people to understand. Just because we have joy, Jesus’ joy within us, doesn’t mean that we won’t face trials or troubles. It doesn’t mean that we won’t or can’t be sad. But what it does mean is that when we encounter such trials our joy cannot be shaken because we have a relationship with God, Jesus and His Spirit.


James tells us that we are to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2 – NIV) Not because of the trial, but because of what it produces. Perseverance and a closer relationship with God.


I’ve been through many of those trials and I’ve learned that when I allow God to be at the center of my being, others can see His joy within me and they note the difference.


I don’t know if the name Joy will continue to be passed down through our family, but I certainly hope so. If nothing else, I pray that God will continue to see His joy flow through the lives of my family. Because He brings me such joy.


Grace and peace be yours in abundance,



[i] Holman Bible Dictionary, definition of joy, http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T3512

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