A woman who is experiencing joy.

Finding joy isn’t easy. Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22-23 and the fruit we discuss today as we continue our study of the Fruit of the Spirit.

I was blessed to have an extremely loving mother who was a devoted Christian and prayer warrior. My mother was also my friend and mentor. However, life was not easy – ever. Her childhood had its good times, but also a lot of difficulties. Her adult life was not easy either. She often said, “I can’t wait for heaven where I will experience peace.”

Because of her desire for peace, I was taken by surprise when I kept vigil that evening in June. Her physical presence was fading, but it seemed she was spiritually aware as she prepared to pass from this life and enter heaven. Too weak to carry on a conversation; she occasionally spoke. At one point, she said “I am going, I am going, I am going.” When asked where she was going she said with a little bit of an attitude, “To Jesus!” Then a little later she commented, “It is a joyous place.” Like Stephen, did an angel open the doors a little for her see where she was heading?

However, it wasn’t the glimpse of heaven that surprised me as much as her choice of words. I can’t ever remember her saying that word. I thought she would look forward to the peace and not the joy of heaven. Yet, it was the joy she saw that intrigued and comforted her that day.

women looking up joy in the dictionary

According to the dictionary* joy is defined: An emotion of sudden pleasure; exultant satisfaction, keen delight. Finding joy as described in this definition is a theme throughout the Bible.

I am sure finding joy was not what the shepherds expected as they went about their ordinary work watching the sheep. However, the mundane was interrupted by ‘sudden pleasure” when angels appeared and proclaimed the Savior’s arrival. And despite their pronouncement of peace, it was joy these men experienced. (Luke 2: I3-15, 20)

Surely, Rachel felt ‘exultant satisfaction’ when she finally gave Jacob a son. (Genesis 30:22)

And then there was Miriam, who discovered ‘keen delight’ when she saw the Red Sea open and close at God’s command on her way to freedom and God’s Promised Land! (Exodus 15: 19-21 and Numbers 12: 1-2).

While finding joy in these types of experiences are not wrong, I am not sure it is what Paul meant when he wrote the Greek word chara in the fruit of the Spirit list. Note that all of these examples are before the Holy Spirit was active in believers lives consistently.


Chara is related to both charis which means grace or gift and charos which means rejoice.

We derive our joy from God’s grace and gift of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our hearts should rejoice or have joy all the time.

It is like having a child. There is a burst of love or excitement when the child is born, but in the ups and downs of raising the child it isn’t all peaches and cream. The burst of love isn’t always there, but the underlying love is.

For example, the love of a child SUSTAINS throughout. More importantly, it WITHSTANDS throughout. I think that is the type of joy Paul was writing about. One that sustains and withstands in the mundane and even the bad times.

Finding joy according to the fruit of the Spirit is not the unexpected joy that you might soon forget when things get back to normal (the shepherds) or the answered prayers that you treat disrespectfully later by asking for more. (Rachel) Or even the miracle that WOW’s you for the moment, but its glory fades. (Miriam)


In February when we began this series we did an overview of the Fruit of the Spirit and discovered that it is important to:

Dove with words Focus more on the Spirit and less ont he Fruit.

So, back to the love of a child. Is that something you work to have or is it a gift that comes naturally?

That is how the fruit of the Spirit is. We rest in the Spirit and the fruit is the gift. Jesus is the source of our joy and therefore it should be with us all the time, not just when we have bursts of delight.


Now this doesn’t mean we are to run around jumping up and down all the time. It is like the love for a child. You aren’t constantly thinking about loving the child or even demonstratively showing it. But it is there.

Just like your child should know you love him/her even when you are disciplining them, making them do something they don’t want to do, or even when you are not physically present; we too should know that God is in the difficulty and remain joyful in Him and His love for us.

We aren’t to pretend we are happy during difficult times, but understand that God can use these times for our growth and His glory. So, the joy should still be there. In fact, we should lean on it.

Read one or all of the events about Jonah, David, Bathsheba, and/or Job

Dig into what they learned during difficult times. Then really examine the difficult time you are in and how God can use it for you or others in your life. What can you learn about finding joy?

Bibles on porch swing
Develop an Eternal Perspective

I discovered in a 1 Thessalonians study that Paul stressed the return of Jesus. This book constantly points to eternity. So, stop looking at the problem so intently and look at finding joy in the future with Jesus.

Find Joy in Heaven
Get down on your knees and be completely dependent on God.

Don’t just say words. Cry out to Him.

Woman praying for joy
Lastly, check out some historical Christians who suffered greatly

See how finding joy was part of their lives.

Some suggestions:

Fanny Crosby. Blinded as an infant but wrote an estimated 9,000 hymns. This was before braille!

Susanna Wesley. Difficult life with 19 children and a husband who was absent most of the time. Samuel Wesley didn’t manage money well and finances were always a burden. Additionally, two of their homes burned down.

Corrie ten Boon. Arrested by Nazi’s for hiding Jews. Miraculously released form a concentration camp. However, she spent her life ministering to others and spreading the salvation message.

All three of these woman practiced joy despite there circumstances. We can learn a lot from them. Of course, there are many others you can study too.


To learn more about this experience with my mom as she passed from this life to the next check out “Fall’s Comforting Message.” You can also check out this article about happiness.

If you have any other suggestions on how to make joy a more consistent fruit in our lives please share in the comments below.

*(1981). The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary (4th ed., p. 293). Penguin Books USA.