“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full,” (John 15:11).
“But about the Son He says . . . You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set You above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy,” (Hebrews 8a, 9 – ESV).
“But now I come to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves,” (John 17:13).
Our Father wants us to be happy! It’s all over Scripture. In fact, in at least one place, He commands it!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
As children of God, we have particular reason to be glad — because He is not only our God, but our loving Heavenly Father. That is a special, unique relationship with the God of the universe and I, for one, am in awe of that position that God has gifted to me.
“But as many as received Him to them gave He the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,” (John 1:12).
That said, life is not always rosy, so if you think of happy or joyful as lighthearted, chipper, playful and bouncy you will roll your eyes and say, “impossible.” Name your trial, your disagreement with a fellow human being, your heartache over a wayward child or a loved one who has passed on. These are the realities of life, and yet, it doesn’t change our Father’s desire or command. But . . . how?
Paul suggests we rejoice in hope:
“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer,” (Romans 12:12).
There’s more to that verse, but we’re focusing, now, on joy. We rejoice in hope. That’s not the only time Paul says this.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 15:13).
So first to note is that hope — that allows us to rejoice despite our circumstances — is supplied to us by the Holy Spirit who indwells us.
But in what do we hope?
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:1-2).
We hope in the glory of God. What is that? Well, in Romans 8 we get a clue:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us . . . Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves grown within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance,” (Romans 8:18, 23-25).
Our hope — and the glory of God Paul writes of — is the redemption and transformation of our bodies and character into complete conformity to Jesus (I John 3:2; Philippians 3:20-21). One day it will happen
This word “glory” used in Romans means, “dignity, glorious.” A dictionary definition of the word means, “magnificence or great beauty.” What we will be is beyond our comprehension (I John 3:2), but it is very obviously something to look forward to and rejoice in!
My study Bible says this in Romans 5:
“The believer’s ultimate destiny is to share in the very glory of God, and that hope will be realized because Christ Himself secures it.” He lists a number of verses. Here are a couple:
“And the glory which you gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one,” (John 17:22).
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord,” (II Corinthians 3:18).
A couple years ago it hit me that the term “glory“ in Scripture must be taken in context for its definition. We hear a lot of songs about “Glory,” as another name for Heaven. But there are a number of times in Scripture where that term is not referring to Heaven, it’s referring to the transformation we will undergo at the coming of Jesus. We will be “glorified.“
“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together,” (Romans 8:17)
This is the hope we rejoice in. And what hope! Wow! We can be glad in the middle of the dire and distressing circumstances our life brings because we have the ability to look beyond it to a day that will bring us joy beyond our ability to comprehend! By the power of God’s Spirit in us we can reach above our circumstances rather than be weighed down by them.
Does a the joy God commands connote chipper, bouncy and playful? I don’t think so. I think that joy is, rather, the steady infusing and reminder by God’s Spirit of who we are and where we are headed as we walk through the ups and downs our present life brings.