I have been considering the nature of joy, the creation of joy recently, because of a book I am re-reading. The book explores the nature of the relationship between God and man.
The writer begins one chapter with a short recollection of a woman telling him that the enemy seeks to attack him through his joy.
The writer continues with how he chose in the past to deal with disappointments, troubles and sorrows in his life. And how glorious, wonderful days lifted him to exultation ... but they were short-lived.
We tend to equate joy with happiness. Happiness is usually defined as a feeling of contentment or satisfaction. We spiritualize joy by separating it from circumstance. We say happiness is derived from favorable circumstances; and joy is derived from a favorable inward state: our relationship with the creator. Because joy is anchored in an unchanging fact (God's love and grace toward us) it should stand in an unchanging state.
As we have seen so far in our brief trip of discovery, joy is created by our relationship with God. The closer, more real, our relationship becomes, the more joy we should experience. But it is also created by our response to God. And it is created by how close we walk in agreement with his purposes. It should be a basic motivation to these things.
Maybe we should not connect joy to a state of contentment? Maybe we should connect it to what people today call "passion" -- an enthusiasm or intense, motivating emotion? Something that provokes a powerful heart focus that enables us to lean into adversity.
We all know stories of people endure considerable pain, opposition, animosity and persecution to achieve some high goal. It is difficult to conceive of an internal state that motivates the Paul's, Ghandi's and M. L. King's of the world. Would duty, an internal certainty of the cause or a high altruism be sufficient to motivate perseverance to this kind of suffering? Or is it joy? Or is it something else?