This year’s Seeking Stillness Spring retreat (April 19-21) focused on joy. We used John 15 as our scripture text. In this chapter Jesus tells the disciples that if they abide in Him they will be fruitful, they will experience His love fully, and they will be guided by the Holy Spirit. But ultimately He says:
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
We spent a lot of time talking at the retreat about the difference between happiness and joy. Joy is the experience of peace and serenity, even in the midst of hardship. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that often is determined simply by external circumstances. Our happiness is not God’s goal and often the circumstances that create it aren’t necessarily pleasing to God.
What John 15:11 helped us to see was that our joy comes as a result of God’s joy. When we abide with God, He is filled with joy and he then shares that joy with us. This is the inner sense of His presence and provision that allows us to be calm in the midst of trial and external circumstances that make others unhappy. When we put our trust in God, seek His direction for our lives and daily decisions, and celebrate with gratitude what He has done for us, our whole perspective changes. This is a perspective steeped in joy, peace, and assurance that regardless of what is going on today, God is in control and will provide.
May God’s joy be in you today.