Joy Is Always Circumstantial

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I’ve always been taught that joy does not depend on circumstances. And I do not disagree with those who have so taught me. Huhwha…? Then what does the title of this post mean? [Insert image of confused individual scratching his head.] Well, I agree with them because they mean that joy does not depend on variable circumstances–things like the weather or bank balance or health or relationships or chocolate or fluffy, snuggly kittens, the presence or absence or degree or quality of any of which might or might not give pleasure or enjoyment.

But if joy is totally independent of variable circumstances, then why be joyful? Well, it’s gotta be because of circumstances that aren’t variable. And what might those circumstances be? Why, the nature and character of God, of course, and His disposition toward His children. Here are a few examples from the Psalms:

  • “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever should for joy, because You defend them; Let those who love your name be joyful in You” (Psalm 5:11).
    The circumstance of having a faithful God who defends us is reason for joy.
  • “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11a).
    The circumstance of being always in the presence of the omnipresent God is reason for joy.
  • “The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Yahweh; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” (Psalm 21:1).
    The circumstance of having a strong and saving God is reason for joy.
  • “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy” (Psalm 31:7a).
    The circumstance of being the recipient of God’s mercy is reason for joy.
  • “Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4a). The circumstance of having a God whose very nature is joy is reason for joy.
  • “The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Psalm 58:10).
    The circumstance of having a God who punishes the wicked is reason for joy.
  • “Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, And govern the nations on earth” (Psalm 67:4).
    The circumstance of having a just God is reason for joy.
  • “Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1).
    The circumstance of having a God who is strong and who identifies with His people is reason for joy.
  • “Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1b). The circumstance of having Yahweh as your Savior is reason for joy.
  • “Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name” (Psalm 97:12).
    The circumstance of having a holy God is reason for joy.
  • “This is the day Yahweh has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
    The circumstance of having a God who is the Author of every other circumstance is reason for joy.
  • “I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure” (Psalm 119:162).
    The circumstance of having a God whose word is perfect and stands forever is reason for joy.
  • “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King” (Psalm 149:2).
    The circumstance of having Yahweh as your Creator and Ruler is reason for joy.

The notion that “joy isn’t circumstantial” might leave the impression that it has to be mustered up ex nihilo, with no basis and for no reason. But there’s plenty of good reason for rejoicing and unfalteringly dependable circumstances in which to rejoice. We just need to make sure our joy is founded on the perfect circumstances of being made and known and loved by the God who never changes rather than on the shifting sand of variable circumstances.

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