Life can be challenging, painful, and uncertain. No matter what season you are going through, it is comforting to have a handful of joy in the Bible verses to carry you through and bring you hope.
Let’s talk about what the Bible says about joy and prepare our hearts for the joy that comes only from our creator and savior.
We often think of joy as a good, uplifting feeling, but what is the Biblical definition of joy?
Patheos has an excellent definition of joy in the Bible.
“Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience like a wedding or graduation but the definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy but joy is also gift.”
Why is Joy So Important in the Bible?
With this biblical definition of joy in mind, we find that joy is important in the Bible because it is a quality of God himself.
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Joy in the Bible Verses
God is good to give us His word to encourage and comfort us. So, how many times is the word joy found in the Bible? Depending on your translation, between 130 and 175. That is a lot of encouragement!
While we are going to go through numerous Bible verses about joy in this post, let’s sum it up with a question. Where does the Bible say joy comes from?
Our joy comes from the Lord!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 NIV
When we are allowing Christ to work in our hearts, we are filled with joy, peace, and hope.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
We often think of God as powerful, peaceful, loving and all-knowing but we rarely think of him as joyful.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.Zephaniah 3:17
God rejoices over us! We bring him joy!
The angels do too as Jesus explains to us in this parable.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”Luke 15:8-10
What is the difference between joy and happiness?
I would first like to point out that happiness is an emotion and that is not what the Bible is referring to when it mentions joy. Emotions are our natural reactions to situations around us.
Our joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Joy is the ability to be content believing that God is working all things for our good.
There is a difference between joy and happiness and while we all love the high we get from happiness, true joy is steady and dependable. It is like maturity wrought from experience, with a little heartache and faith mixed in.
While we obviously do not have time to cover those 130 plus verses, let’s go over a few key joy in the Bible verses and fill our arsenal to carry us through tough times and fight the fear and sadness that the world brings.
While we just explained the difference between joy and happiness, the Bible does have verses about both.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shakenPsalm 16:8-9
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.Psalm 16:11
We can always count on David to be full of happiness and joy of the Lord! We are able to embrace such joy and happiness because our eyes are on the Lord.
One of the most encouraging verses is a well-known one about joy in the morning.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.Psalm 30:5
Weeping for a night does not literally mean one evening, but it does mean a season. We are not meant to be in an extended period of sadness, grief, or heartache.
God wants to lift us up out of our hurt, surround us with His peace and love, and fill us with joy.
Our joy comes from the Lord. So often we try to force this joy ourselves and end up making a mess of things. Or we seek joy from other sources.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.Habakkuk 3:17-18
Joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Habakkuk learned this. He describes the terrible condition he is living in and yet rejoices in the Lord.
The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.Isaiah 51:3
It is the Lord that comforts us and brings us joy. No matter what you have done or where you have wasted your life, God forgives you, clothes you in righteousness, and gives you joy.
I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With you you will draw water from the wells of salvation.Isaiah 12:1-3
We have joy in the Lord because we have salvation.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.Psalm 5:11
We have joy in the Lord because He is our refuge and our protection. Our joy comes from the Lord because we are safe and have nothing to fear.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”Nehemiah 8:10
This is just part of an incredible story of God bringing His people out of punishment and restoring their hope and joy in Him.
In a sinful world, full of heartache and natural discontentment, we sometimes have to make the decision to allow God to work joy into our hearts. Bible verses about choosing joy are for those days when you have allowed yourself to become focused on the world.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1-3
Choose joy, my friends! Look to Jesus, who endured our sins and brokenness, our pain and suffering, knowing the joy of eternal life. We can choose joy because all of the hurt and disappointments of life are only temporary.
I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.Psalm 71:22-23
1 Thessalonians 5:16
David chose joy. Why? Because he had been delivered and had seen the faithfulness of God.
“Rejoice always”1 Thessalonians 5:16
Paul gives it almost as a command. It’s not always easy to have joy, but we are instructed to choose it.
Joy and thankfulness go hand in hand. We are often able to be joyful in less-than-happy circumstances because we are focusing on what we are thankful for. What are you thankful for today?
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.Psalm 28:6-7
David is thankful that God heard him and had mercy on him. He’s thankful that he doesn’t have to depend on his own mortal strength.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.Psalm 100:1-5
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.Psalm 7:17
David sure could praise God, couldn’t he?
We are thankful because God is righteous. His truth remains steadfast, never changing, and reliable.
When I think of Bible verses about joy and laughter, the first thing that comes to mind is the story of Sarah. She had wished and prayed and dreamed about a child for most of her life. God had promised her a son and yet he did not come.
She took matters into her own hands and provided her beloved Abraham a son and then regretted her decision.
Finally, she is told that within a year she will give birth to a child. What does she do? She laughs! She laughs with disbelief, with bitterness of a hope that died, and perhaps with true joy at the prospect that she might finally have her heart’s desire fulfilled.
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:10-12)
God was gracious to her and blessed her as the mother of a promised seed. From her, all nations of the earth would be blessed.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.Psalm 126:1-3
This Psalm is written about Israel being restored after her captivity, but it is relevant to us today as well. We have also been restored through faith in Christ. We have every reason to be filled with laughter and joy.
1 Peter 4:12-13
Some of the most difficult concepts to understand in God’s word are Bible verses about joy and suffering. They often go hand in hand which feels like a contradiction.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.1 Peter 4:12-13
Peter instructs us to not only accept this suffering, but to rejoice in it.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.(James 1:2-4)
“Consider it pure joy”. James’s ideas of suffering are not at all what our culture promotes today, but what if we did accept the suffering and count it joy? How would that affect us? Only positively, drawing us closer to Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:6
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.1 Thessalonians 1:6
In this verse, Paul is praising the church in Thessalonica because they came to the Lord during severe persecution and what did they receive from God? Joy!
It is amazing – the wide range of verses we have about joy, isn’t it? Which Bible verses about joy speak to you right now? Do you have a favorite one that isn’t listed here?