Written By: Emma Baldwin
“You have made 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
Throughout Scripture, it is often said that joy is found in the presence of God. Finding joy in God’s presence is something that we hear a lot and, hopefully, strive for as Christians. However, it is important to recognize what it truly looks like to be living joyfully in the presence of God. Joy is something that we want in our everyday lives. But how do we, as Christ-followers, practically live joyful lives? There are many ways to find joy in the presence of God, but this article will just focus on three of these ways.
Perhaps the most obvious answer is in seeking a genuine and intentional relationship with God, which is a result of being in His presence. The Bible frequently discusses the necessity of seeking God and the good that comes of it: “But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted!’” (Psalm 40:16). God wants us to whole-heartedly seek Him and invest time getting to know Him and His character. Though we are told this often within Christianity, it does not lessen its truth that relationships cannot flourish if the individuals do not spend time diligently getting to know everything they can about the other individual. It is the same with our relationship with God. The bond we have with God is strongest when we dive into His Word and learn about who He is.
On the other hand, God desires that we be completely open, honest, and sincere in our relationships with God. Being open in our relationship with God means not hiding a single aspect of our character from Him. He already knows everything about us that there is to know, but He desires for us to show Him every single aspect of our personality. We relish in the excitement of being in God’s presence when we take the time to get to know Him and when we show ourselves to Him. When we truly invest in our relationships with God, we feel more distinctly the joy that comes as a result of being in His presence.
Another way we feel joy in the presence of God is by obeying His commands. God rejoices in goodness and Truth and wants us to do the same. In the story of the vine and the branches in the book of John, Jesus instructs His followers to continue to grow in Him, as He is the only possible way of bearing fruit for the believers. Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love” (John 15:9–10). God wants us to obey His commands, not because we have to, but because they allow us to live fully and joyfully for Him. Towards the end of the story, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). God loves us and sent His Son to die for our sins. He does not require us to bear fruit so that we can be saved. He wants us to bear fruit because living a moral life is good, beautiful, and pleasing to Him. God also wants us to live moral lives because it brings us joy. In living morally, we draw closer to God and rejoice in His presence.
- K. Chesterton discusses the idea of living morally in his bookOrthodoxy, saying that living in moral boundaries allows us to live more freely. Chesterton gives the example of children playing on a piece of land that is surrounded by cliffs. He argues that the children will play more freely and happily if the piece of land is enclosed by walls, which helps the children to know that they will not fall over the cliffs. Similarly, in Christianity, God’s commands create boundaries that allow us to live more freely and more joyfully. Following God’s commands allows us to live in a way that is more pleasing to God and is simply good. It allows us to draw closer to God and more fully and freely find joy in His presence.
We also rejoice in God’s presence when we unhesitatingly enjoy the beauty of His creation and the blessings He puts in our lives. This seems pretty obvious, but it is something that is easy to forget. Scripture discusses the immense beauty of creation and encourages us to praise God for His handiwork: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3–4). God manifests His character to us in His mighty creation. In being in His creation and rejoicing in it, we draw closer to God, which allows us to more fully find joy in His presence. Additionally, this joy can be found in enjoying the blessings He puts in our lives. Whether these blessings take the form of a loving family, good friends, happy memories, or other things, truly relishing in these gifts allows us to see God’s hand in our lives and find joy in His presence.
Joy is found in the presence of God alone, and there are many ways to truly rejoice in His presence. God does not call us to live as controlled robots meant to fulfill goals without emotion. As Christians, we are called to live lives full of joy for the glory of God because it is pleasing to Him. We are called to a life of joy found in His presence alone because it is good and beautiful. What a beautiful calling we have!