Summary: The problem is that we’ve confused joy with happiness. Happiness is dependent on happenings. Circumstances in your life dictate whether or not you are happy. Joy, on the other hand, is a gift from God - a fruit of the Spirit that transcends whatever is
Opening illustration: During an earthquake some years ago, the inhabitants of a small village were generally very much alarmed, but they were at the same time surprised at the calmness and apparent joy of an old woman whom they all knew. At length one of them, addressing the old woman, said, “Mother, are you not afraid?” “No,” said the woman, “I rejoice to know that I have a God who can shake the world.”
Let us look into ‘God’s Word’ and see the purpose of this Joy that we should have through the Holy Spirit.
Introduction: In the OT, joy was an expression of excitement that was experienced with personal triumph, or celebrating a good harvest or military victory. Often feasting, the offering of sacrifices or blessings and dancing were tied with joy (Deut 12:12; 1 Sam 18:6; Ps 31:7; 96: 11; Isa. 56:7; 60:15; 61:3 ff; Joel 1:16;). In the NT, Joy comes from the Holy Spirit. It is associated with receiving or the telling of God’s redemptive love. It also is associated with the enjoyment of life such as eating, drinking, feasting and even suffering (Matt 5:11-12; Luke 12:19; Acts 7:41; Gal 5:22; 1 Peter 1:6).
Today the problem is that we’ve confused joy with happiness. Happiness is dependent on happenings. Circumstances in your life dictate whether or not you are happy. Joy, on the other hand, is a gift from God - a fruit of the Spirit that transcends whatever is happening in your life. Joy allows you to rise - even to soar - above difficult circumstances, challenges, and heartaches. Joy comes from knowing Who is in control and that He has a plan to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) We do not draw our strength from the great feeling we get when things go right; if we did, we would be powerless when hard times and adversity hit, and we would all be easy pickings for the devil. No, it is the joy of the Lord that is our strength!
Background: This passage is figurative of all that a believer will go through before the coming of Christ. We see that Jesus knows the scriptures; He knew these pictures; they were in His mind and in His memory. And now He was saying to His disciples: “I am leaving you; but I am coming back; the day will come when my reign will begin and My Kingdom will come; but before that you will have to go through terrible things, with pain like birth-pangs upon you. But, if you faithfully endure, and go through that terrible time, the blessings will be very precious.” Then Jesus went on to outline the life of the Christian who endures.
Purpose of the ‘Joy of the Spirit’ ~
1. Sorrow will turn to JOY (v. 20):-
One of the most popular passages in the Bible is Nehemiah 8:10: "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Why is joy important? Because the "joy of the Lord is your strength!" Joy produces strength. And strength is needed to fight. You are called to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12). I sense in my spirit that many people in the body of Christ are tired of fighting the good fight of faith. They are struggling to fight because they have lost their joy.
Perhaps you are tired of fighting for your marriage. You are fed up with your spouse. You think that he doesn’t love you any more, so why fight for his love. You are ready to throw in the towel. Maybe you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have been sick for so long that you don’t remember what it’s like to be healthy. At one time, you battled this sickness, but the sickness seems to be winning. So you think, What’s the use, I might as well accept this sickness and learn to live with it. I’m never going to get well.
Possibly you once waged war against your financial debts. But things haven’t changed much, and you’re beginning to get discouraged. You think that you are never going to get out from under all your bills. You might be having trouble with your children. You wonder if they are ever going to straighten up. You are exhausted from their rebellion. Is God ever going to change them? you wonder.
There may be a time when it looks as if to be a Christian brings nothing but sorrow, and to be of the world brings nothing but joy. But the day comes when the roles are reversed. The world’s careless joy will turn to sorrow; and the Christian’s apparent sorrow will turn to joy. The Christian must always remember, when his faith costs him dear, that this is not the end of things that after the sorrow there comes the joy. [Light at the other end of the tunnel]