Defining Joy, Part 1

By Nate Hartman

August 23, 2011

JoyThis is the second in a season-long series of posts on the topic of joy, as it relates to the life and athletic pursuits of your teams.  These weekly posts will correspond with each weekly study from The Wellspring of Life Initiative, a unique "Discipline for Godliness" program for athletes developed by the NCSAA (and available to all member schools, as part of their membership).  This post corresponds with Week 1: "Defining Joy, Part 1."

 1 Keep me safe, my God,
   for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
   apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
   “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
   I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
   or take up their names on my lips.

5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
   you make my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.

-- Psalm 16:1-6

  • What comes to your mind when you think of joy?  What do you think of when you picture a person who is "full of joy?"
  • Would you say that your life is filled with joy?  Why or why not?  Does King David (the writer of this psalm) sound like someone filled with joy?  Why or why not?
  • What is the basis of David's joy?
  • David writes, "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing" (v. 2).  Does this mean that joy cannot be experienced in any other part of life -- only in God?  In what other things does David find joy (v. 1, 3, 6)?  Would David have experienced joy in his safety, his relationships, or his future without God?  Do any of the things of life have the ability to produce joy, apart from God?  What is the source of joy?
  • What are the fun parts of athletics, for you?  Can athletics bring joy to your life?  What is the difference between fun and joy?
  • Can you have joy apart from God (v. 2)?  Many non-Christians claim to have joy.  What things bring this "joy" to a person who does not know Christ?  Do these things produce joy?  What is different about a Christian's experience with "joy" (v. 5)?  How long does joy last?
  • What would you say is the opposite of joy?  What is often happening in a person's life, during these times?
  • Suffering is not something that we typically associate with joy.  According to verse 4, what causes the suffering that is described?  When you think of times of sorrow or suffering in your life, were you running after other gods (or goals or priorities) that are in conflict with a relationship with God?  Do people who trust in God never suffer?  Are people who suffer ever able to also express joy?  How so?  Can joy and suffering be opposites, if they can co-exist?
  • If you understand joy as the delight that comes from the security and confidence of salvation in Christ, then -- consider again -- what is the opposite of joy?
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