Experiencing Two Types of Joy

by Jenn Wyss

Can you think back to a moment in your life where you experienced utter joy?  Joy that inspired feelings of complete contentment and satisfaction.  Most likely the situation that came to mind centered on a happy moment in your life such as joy from the birth of a child, receiving a promotion at work or even attending a concert.  This type of joy is a natural response to good things.  This joy is because of our circumstances.

However, did you realize that the Bible actually mentions two types of joy: joy because of our circumstances AND joy in spite of our circumstances?  That’s because joy is not always dependent on emotions and circumstances, internal joy is spiritually driven.

Joy “in spite of” our circumstances is joy that doesn’t make logical sense.  It is not connected to what is happening in the world around us.  Nor is it a fake joy where we pretend everything is okay even when it is not. It is a God-given joy available to everyone.  It is an unquenchable joy, a joy that can’t be stolen despite any circumstance we are walking through.

The mother of Jesus, Mary, demonstrated this type of “in spite of joy” when she became supernaturally pregnant with Jesus. You see, Mary was pregnant out of wedlock.  Mary could have been stoned for this or at the very least been a social outcast.  She could look forward to her name being dragged through the mud for the rest of her life.  Mary could have easily allowed her circumstances to rob her of her joy.  She could have been overwhelmed by the destruction of her reputation.  She could have focused on her engagement and the fact that it could fall apart along with her dreams for the future.  She could have chosen to go through her pregnancy grumpy and resentful, BUT she didn’t.  She was honest with herself about her circumstances, yet she positioned herself to be filled with joy “in spite of” those circumstances around her.

In Luke we see the exuberant song of “in spite of” joy that springs from Mary’s heart.  As you read it, recognize the contradiction of the reality of her circumstances and the joy that she felt in spite of them.

Luke 1:46-55 (NIV)  Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49  for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

How can we rejoice like Mary even in the midst of trouble?  How can we have “in spite of” joy when we don’t get the job, or the house, or the relationship or the healing that we want? How can we embrace a joy that isn’t joyful about the brokenness and hurt in our world, but instead is joyful despite the brokenness and hurt in our world?  How can we have joy in spite of everything?

The simple answer: ask Him. God does not want us to feel stuck in a joyless place. He wants to help us tap into his “in spite of” joy.  Ask God to make his supernatural joy real and present in your life.  Ask him for his “in spite of” joy that does not rely on the circumstances that surround you to fill you with peace.  God desires to reignite our joy so that our Christmas season is a joy-filled experience that is not dependent on our circumstances.


Have you ever experienced God's "in spite of," supernatural joy?


Take a few minutes to talk to God and ask Him for His peace and "in spite of" joy to be present to you right now.