The Greek term chara appears throughout the New Testament. It is translated by the word joy and refers to an inner feeling of happiness. Holy Scripture refers here to an emotion, a sense of delight and gladness.

Paul declares that he is rejoicing even as he experiences suffering, and that he will continue to rejoice in the future. This is not to say that the presence of sadness in our lives is a moral blemish. The same apostle bears witness to his perpetual sorrow as he contemplates the Jews in their unbelief: “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart” (Romans 9:2). It is possible to have joy in our hearts even while there is an undercurrent of sorrow. This is the way it was for the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied that he would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3). Yet he also spoke about an inner happiness: “These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). There was simultaneously joy and sorrow in the heart of Jesus, and we can expect to find the same in our experience too. Joy unmixed with sorrow must await the consummation of the eternal kingdom.

How was Paul able to have joy in his innermost being when he wrote Philippians? He was not a superhuman or a divine person, but simply a man among men, an earthen vessel.The joy Paul experienced was supernatural, generated by God Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Joy is a beautiful manifestation of the moral renewal which the indwelling Holy Spirit produces within the person who is united to Christ by faith. Paul determined to face life’s trials with joy. We must resolve to do the same.

– Mark Lawson

Let us fight bravely against all the trials of this brief life, confident that our Lord will uphold us by his power until we have fully overcome.

– John Calvin