Israel refused to enter the land. After years of wandering in the wilderness, and after freedom from slavery in Egypt, God’s people should've been thrilled to draw ever nearer to the land flowing with milk and honey, the land God had promised them. Finally to be home! Finally to be settled....
Happiness is fickle, and requires happy circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, sticks around. It doesn’t get chased off by trouble.
The author of Lamentations describes how happiness disappears when turmoil enters the scene:
My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is. (Lamentations 3:17)
But the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives us great and lasting joy, even when we face affliction:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)
21 Bible Verses About Joy
In the English Standard Version of the Bible, the words “joy,” “rejoice,” or “joyful” appear a total of 430 times, compared with “happy” or “happiness,” which appear only ten times. Joy is lasting, and it satisfies the heart in a unique and marvelous way.
Joy is characteristic of God’s people, found in his presence. As Pastor Colin says, “Christian joy flows from realizing our position in Christ: who you are in him, and what he has done for you.”
Here are 21 Bible verses about joy to encourage you when circumstances look bigger than Christ:
Sorrow and suffering will pass, but joy continues in spite of hardship. Eternal joy is promised to come and, when it does, it lasts.
1. Psalm 30:5
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
2. Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
3. John 16:22
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Unlike happiness, joy is true satisfaction. Several times, God’s Word describes joy as “full” or “complete.” Joy satisfies the heart in a way that temporary happiness never can.
4. Psalm 4:7
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
5. John 15:11
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
6. Philippians 2:1-2
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
7. 1 Peter 1:8-9
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, fullness of joy is found in the presence of the Lord.
8. 1 Chronicles 16:27
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.
9. Psalm 5:11
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
10. Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
11. Roman 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
No power of positive thinking can bring lasting joy. Instead, joy is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in us, and characterizes the people of God.
12. Esther 8:6
The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor.
13. 1 Kings 8:66
On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king and went to their homes joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown to David his servant and to Israel his people.
14. Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Building our own kingdoms and following our agendas may offer temporary joy, but not lasting joy. Building God’s kingdom offers a special joy that can’t be replicated.
15. Luke 10:17
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
16. Luke 15:6-7
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
17. Acts 15:3
So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.
We are commanded to be glad, rejoice, and shout for joy. Joy is a deliberate act of obedience in response to who Christ is and what he has done.
18. Psalm 32:11
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
19. Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
20. Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
21. Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
In happy or sad times, in comfort or difficulty, we find joy in the presence of the Lord. Focusing on Christ—who he is, what he’s done to save us, and his promise to keep us—brings a supernatural joy that can’t compare with temporary happiness.