As Christians, we have access to something that sets us apart from all others: joy. I am not sure how to feel deep joy apart from knowing deep grace, the kind that Jesus made possible. That’s why I feel joy, the real kind, is reserved for believers.
I know joy is real, that it’s a thing we have access to through the Holy Spirit, when I’m feeling it at times that I shouldn’t. This hasn’t happened for me often in my life. Even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, grace and its byproduct joy are things I’m only beginning to understand. I guess it takes some of us a while.
So recently I have been “surprised by joy” at times I would typically have a meltdown or a pity party. I noticed it recently in my car. I had had a week in which I considered quitting dating altogether. I had been disappointed by a guy and a different guy a little before that. Though to me the experiences were dramatic and life-altering, if I were to write the details out for you, you would probably be bored (because in hindsight they aren’t quite so dramatic and life-altering). So I won’t. Just know that I was teetering on the edge as I climbed in my car to run an errand and by the time I got out of my car, I had been overwhelmed by a peace and joy that I could physically feel.
The cause had nothing to do with me or a change of circumstance. Suddenly, the weight that had landed on my chest a few days before was gone and my nerves and my breath went steady and my body felt calm and I felt happy in a strange way, in a joyous way. What a gift. The gift of literally feeling joy, even into your toes.
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice….Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51:8,12)
“The joy of your salvation.” I suppose when we feel this deep, real joy, we are being reminded of our salvation at a time when we need most to be reminded of it. Who we are in Christ, who we are without him. In this way, it makes sense I would feel joy in the face of rejection. And when the joy is as deep as it can be, the meltdown and the pity party just can’t happen. I try to default to them, because it has been my way for so long, but salvation stands guard and the joy overcomes.