We often hear the expression “The joy of the LORD”, but what does that mean?  How is the joy of the world different from the joy of the LORD?  Not being greedy, but is there any way we can have both?
   We all know what the joy of the world is, a nice meal, or perhaps a nice place to live, or getting to go to a pleasant place and enjoy being there.  Maybe it’s spending time with your family, or maybe it’s a new car.  Each of us can quickly name something that gives us joy.  However, there are some in religious circles who think it’s unholy to have any joy in the things of this world.  They think you have to walk around with a sad look on your face in order to be “holy” or “godly”.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy sadness.  And furthermore, I don’t think the LORD wants His children being sad, either. 
   God didn’t put the nice things of this world here for the devil and his crew.  No, He put them here for His children to enjoy.  If God put a beautiful flower in front of a devil, he wouldn’t enjoy it and praise God for its beauty, but he would destroy it instead, because devils are destroyers.  Rather, God made the world beautiful, so mankind would look upon it and give Him glory and praise for making such a beautiful creation.  Tell me, which would give God the greater glory, a beautiful forest and garden, like the Garden of Eden was, or a lifeless wilderness?  God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the most beautiful spot on earth.  He even showed them where the gold was, even before there was a Wal-Mart for Eve to spend it all in.  Now, if God didn’t want them to enjoy the things of the world, He would have stuck them out in the middle of the wilderness and told them to eat dirt.  But He didn’t.  He created beauty for His children to enjoy. 
   And yet we see wars and destruction in the world, destroyed cities and places that were once beautiful have been turned into a wilderness.  That isn’t God’s way of doing things; it’s the devil’s way.  At every turn, the devil wants to destroy everything beautiful, and he wants us to be miserable every day of our lives.
Now, getting to the “joy of the LORD”.  Keep in mind we live in a sin-filled world, and we can see the devil’s hand at work most anywhere we look.  Though destruction abounds throughout the world, how can we truly know joy?  Let’s look at some scriptures:
Psa 32:5  I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Psa 32:6  For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Psa 32:7  Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
Psa 32:8  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Psa 32:9  Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
Psa 32:10  Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
Psa 32:11  Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
    You see, as children of the LORD, we have access to something the world doesn’t have.  We are forgiven of our sins, which means, it’s as if we never sinned at all.  Furthermore, we are told in verse 7 that the LORD is our hiding place from trouble. But does that mean we will never get in trouble?  That depends if we let the LORD guide us in the way we should go, for the LORD said He will instruct us and guide us with His own eye.  However, I do find that if we don’t follow the LORD’s leading, we can get in all kinds of trouble, because the world is full of trouble, and we’re in the world.  But if we are not hard headed like a mule, and refuse to follow the LORD’s leading, we will walk in safety, even well-being and blessings, and abounding blessings at that.
    Does a child of God ever face adversity?  Sure we do.  That’s how God shows Himself faithful in our behalf.  If we never faced trouble, how would we ever know the LORD as our Deliverer?  If we had never sinned, how would we know Him as our Savior?  If we have never been sick, how would we know Him as our Healer?  We couldn’t.   Now God doesn’t make trouble to put us in.  He doesn’t make us sin, and He certainly doesn’t make us sick so He can heal us.  But our stiff-necked ways get us into sin, and trouble, and of course the devil brings sickness and destruction upon us any time he can get away with it.  But there’s a better way when we walk with the LORD.
   There is a wonderful passage in Psalms that gives us insight into the nature of the LORD: Psa 35:27  Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Psa 35:28  And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
    Contrary to what some people think, God delights in the prosperity of His servant.  What is “prosperity”?  Is it only having enough money?  Money doesn’t give you joy if you’re dying of sickness.  True prosperity is having more than whatever you need when you need it and God’s desire for us is just that.  He doesn’t delight in our sin, sickness, and poverty.  He doesn’t want your cupboard empty, your car broken down, and your bank account empty.  He wants us to know Him as a faithful, wonderful Father who takes good care of His children.  We can be full of laughter and joy even when the world’s economy is at its lowest, for our joy is not contingent upon circumstances surrounding us.  We have the LORD’s hand upon us to keep us from destruction.  We can have peace in our heart when there is no peace in the world.  Isn’t that something to make you jump for joy?
    If you have been taught that God wants you sick, poor, broke and sad, then you haven’t heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and obviously, you’ve never experienced the joy of the LORD for yourself.  The joy of the world is ok, but it doesn’t begin to compare with the joy of the LORD, knowing all your needs will be met forever, no matter how big the problem is you’re facing right now.  Can you really have both?  That depends upon YOU.  The LORD is willing. Are you?