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I took this photo in Lodwar, Kenya (Turkana peple)

Many of us will struggle with joy because we have the wrong impression of what brings joy. We have this impression that real joy is self-induced. Joy is not the same thing as pleasure. Our culture is big on pleasure. Flat-screen TV’s, iPhones, double mochas, and sleek gas-guzzling automobiles. We’re really good at pleasure. It is joy that many of us are lacking.

Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” John 15:11.

Wherever Jesus went he seemed to bring a renewed sense of joy. He gave joy to those who were fearful when he said, “Fear not, for I am with you.” He gave joy to those weighed down by guilt. He gave joy to those who were self-centered by redirecting their focus outward. Jesus is the joy-bringer.

Lewis Smedes puts it this way: “To miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence.”


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