Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians  5:22-23) but can often seem elusive for Christians. Before delving in to how  we can experience joy in the Christian life, we must first recognize that joy is  not based on circumstances. In fact, joy may not even prevent us from  experiencing negative emotions. Rather, joy is a deep-seated sense of happiness  in what God has done and what He is doing. The Greek word for “joy” is related  to the Greek word for “grace.” Truly, joy is a grace bestowed on us by God. So  how can we accept and experience the gift of joy?
In many ways,  perspective is key. When we look at what God has done for us, we naturally  respond with thanksgiving and joy. When we look at difficult circumstances or  the frustrations of life, we naturally respond with discontent. This is not to  say that we do not acknowledge the difficulties of this life or the lack in our  world. Rather, we do so while still recognizing that God is in control and that  He loves us. The Psalms display this truth beautifully. David, for example,  poured out his complaints to God. He did not deny the hardships of life, his  depression, his hurt, or his disappointment. Yet by the end of each psalm, he  generally seemed encouraged (for instance, Psalm 3; 6; 7; 13; 16; 18).
When we voice our concerns and allow ourselves to be reminded of the goodness  of God, we release our burdens. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are  heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,  for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For  my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew  11:28-30). We can experience joy when we give our burdens to Jesus. He helps  carry the heavy load. He also reminds us of Who He is. Knowing of His care for  us and our ultimate victory in Him, we can experience joy even in our hardships.
Paul was no stranger to hardships (2  Corinthians 11:23-27). And yet he was also prolific on the topic of joy,  particularly in his epistle to the Philippians. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the  Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to  everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in  everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be  made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will  guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). We give our burdens to God through  prayer and do so with thanksgiving.
But we don’t stop there. Paul goes  on to say, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever  is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there  is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these  things” (Philippians  4:8). After we have given our requests to God, we keep a proper perspective.  We think on things that are pure, full of splendor, excellent, right, and  praiseworthy. We do not dwell on our heartache but on the goodness of God and  the beauty He infuses into our lives.
In addition to prayer and proper  perspective, we glean joy from community. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one,  because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift  up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to  lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep  warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will  withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” We were created for  community, as can be seen by God’s creation of Eve to be a helper for Adam and  in Paul’s description of the church as a body of believers (Romans 12:3-13).  Christians are instructed to encourage one another (Hebrews  3:13; 1  Thessalonians 5:11). We can share both our hurtful and happy moments with  friends (Romans  12:15).
Ultimately, these practical tips for experiencing joy are  just a small part of living of joyful life. Jesus describes what it means to  abide in Him in John  15:1-11, linking it with remembering His words, living in His love,  depending on Him, and obeying His commands. He then says, “These things I have  spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). We experience  joy in our Christian lives by giving our lives completely over to Jesus,  accepting His gift of grace. When we truly abide in Him, we will know the  fullness of His joy.