“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

You have probably heard someone use the expression “it robbed me of my joy.” I am not exactly sure what the expression communicates apart from someone or something becoming the cause of sadness, anger, or fear. In any case, the person or thing robbed them of their happy ignorance, since “ignorance is bliss,” rather than a positive form of real, satisfied joy. I am not sure the Bible actually allows for people or things to rob you of your real joy as long as you do not cooperate with their efforts to diminish your joy.

Joy may be defined as an emotion of delight caused by something good, to be glad or gladdened. Joy is often accompanied with the feeling of elation and happiness. It can also define a state of satisfaction.

The prevailing use of the word in our world seems to relate to fleeting exhilaration due to momentary events or experiences. The book of Ecclesiastes refers to this in 2:10f, “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor…Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done…and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” This form of earthbound joy is temporary and totally dependent on things outside of your own resources.

This reminds me of the words of William F. Buckley as he approached the end of his life. He wrote an article about his wrenching decision to sell his sailboat and give up his lifelong love of the sea. You can hear the wistfulness in his tone: “For some, boating is incomplete without the foreplay of sanding and painting and lubricating and all that. The satisfaction gotten from doing such things yourself, if ever you had it, diminishes as you get older. And then up there, up over the clouds, toward which you are gradually climbing, is the mountaintop from which, looking down over it all, you see for the first time ever the whole scene. And you have risked asking yourself that mortal question: Is the ratio of pleasure to effort holding its own? Or is effort creeping up, pleasure down?”…“So, deciding that the time has come to sell the Patito and forfeit all that is not lightly done, and it brings to mind the step yet ahead, which is giving up life itself.”

Such is the experience of every son of Adam as we age. Earthly joy is transient but heavenly joy is eternal. Our Lord’s words are reflective of this principle in Matthew 25:21, 23, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” With these words He is teaching that biblical joy is eternal, not transient and it is fulfilling, not fleeting.

Our Lord is referring to a kind of joy barely conceived of by the unsaved mind. The unsaved mind is yearning for quiet joy, the joy that is steady, remaining, satisfying, and complete. On rare occasions it is experienced in some events of life. Joy at the birth of a healthy child, learned joy at simple pleasures in life, satisfied joy when your child marries well, or joy in a long sought-after achievement are examples of the rare times when unsaved man tastes what is the common eternal state of heavenly joy every believer does and will experience.

Our text in Romans 15:13 speaks of the reservoir of joy available to every saint in salvation. Deep-seated, real, lasting joy is found in Jesus Christ who is the object of our faith and the wellspring of our hope. There is no dilution in His promises and no lack in His ability to fulfill His promises. Jesus declares in John 15:8, 11, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” His source of joy is the “seed” for believers to be able to realize the fullness of joy, in obedience to His commands (Hebrews 12:1–2).

Every authentic believer knows that his deep-seated joyfulness is granted from the Lord. He knows that there are things outside his control in life that will lean heavily upon him (James 1:2), and there are things within that strive against him tending to mute his joy (Psalm 51:12). But he also knows he can live a daily life prepared to experience the joy of the Lord (Psalm 30:5, 126:5–6). Live a “joy-prepared” life concentrating on believing faith and enduring hope in God!

1 Peter 1:7ff reads, “The genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” Meditate upon this and “buck-up!” Trust and obey.