In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Several years ago a 10-year-old boy was struggling with his parents’ divorce. For good cause: his world was being ripped apart. He was struggling to find any place of security. Everything was changing. He had no way of knowing where he would sleep at night, no way of knowing what might happen when time came for breakfast or what life would look like each day after school. He was afraid, sad, and deeply worried. Appropriately so.
We tried as best we could to help him through this turmoil of his parents’ broken marriage. We offered his mom emotional and financial help. We made worked with him in our Sunday School and midweek ministries to give him some social space and friend opportunities. This was not for naught, but he remained deeply fearful and profoundly sad.
His 12-year-old sister was certainly no less traumatized, but seemed to have personal resources that allowed her to deal with the situation. She even helped her brother deal with his anxiety and disappointment.
One day a breath of fresh air blew into this young boy’s soul. His mom attended a divorce recovery workshop and took her children with her. The young boy walked into the room where other children his age and in similar situations to his had gathered. His eyes widened. He looked toward his mom and his sister and felt incredible relief. He was not the only one in this situation. It may not have been joy, but it certainly might have seemed to be such – in light of the dramatic difference in his soul on this occasion. If it wasn’t joy, then it certainly was relief.
Relief from pain and difficulty is a good thing – especially if you’re in the caldron of tumult. That comes sometimes by means of context (like the young boy above). Other times we experience relief when someone simply gives us the milk of human kindness. How sweet that tastes! These are gifts of God for which we can certainly be thankful.
Joy is found and experienced in the presence of God. His gifts of mercy, kindness, love, and goodness are eternal. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we discover the richness of God’s gifts. For not only does his presence provide us with joy, but also peace, patience, love, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These graces form a powerfully-good alliance in the heart of a believer who draws near to God through prayer, meditation on his word and promise, and faith. None of them are ever perfectly formed in even the most consecrated believer. But to the extent that they are found glory and thanksgiving goes to God who is the giver of true joy.