Joy Unspeakable

Is joy unspeakable as the Bible describes easily available, or do you sometimes feel that it is unattainable? This state of joy, independent of circumstances and distinctly different from happiness, should be familiar to every Christian, if we believe in Jesus.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…”  1Pe 1:8

According to the Bible, joy is a force to be reckoned with, a fruit of the Spirit, and a quality that we can ill afford to live without.

Its source is found in knowing and loving Jesus, in whom we have such riches that joy becomes a natural response of glad hearts.

Joy Unspeakable: A creative life without it?

As a Christian artist, how necessary is it to live and create art as a response to joy?

When I consider my own moods, emotions, peculiar approaches to art, as well as my working habits, I am compelled to conclude that creativity and the making of art is exceedingly dependent on experiencing at least some measure of joy.

I suspect that the artistic temperament is universal in nature, regardless of where we live, our level of skill or the media we work in. We rarely feel the motivation to create when we are down in the dumps. Even the most disciplined artist must have some sense of well being before sitting down to creative work. Visual art is ultimately a delighted response to stimuli.

As a Christian artist, my work is rooted in a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of our world, gratitude to God for His faithfulness and my love for Jesus - all seasoned with a good measure of exultation - or joy!

What happens if this joy unspeakable eludes us?

When we are depressed, it is difficult to see any good in the world. Our sights are narrow and usually turned inward. Sadness, while needing expression is rarely the fount of uplifting work, unless it is transient - a passing emotion that changes as we put pencil to paper, or paint to canvas. 

Art therapy successfully employs this phenomenon by engaging those with troubled emotions in a creative endeavor to turn despair to hope. I’ve often enjoyed the thrill of experiencing that transition, from sadness to joy, as I forced myself to create something when I wasn’t quite feeling up to it. Art, for me, is always a conversation with Jesus, and any interaction with Him is encouraging and uplifting!

 Making the transition from down in the dumps to joy.

When I’m upset about something, I usually take it to the Father in prayer and seek Him in the Bible, while listening with my spirit for His voice. Sometimes it is the firm voice of correction that I hear, at other times it may be a whisper of encouragement, or the warmth of comfort. If I expect to hear from Him, promising to obey whatever He may show me, then I can be certain that I will hear.  The promises from the Bible always lift my spirits.

At other times, it is just stepping into my studio determined to work on something. The very act of painting (or sculpting) imparts an all pervasive sense of peace, much like the absolute calm that followed Jesus’ command to the wind and the waves - “Peace, Be still!”

That stillness was profound in stark contrast to the fury of the storm just prior to the command; a tempest that terrified even the most sea hardened Galilean fishermen! Forcing myself to just respond to the materials at hand, to suspend my emotions long enough to consider the techniques involved in any creative endeavor is sufficient to make that transition.


As I’ve mentioned before, that is His word for me for this year - to rejoice, regardless of circumstances.

I’ve since embarked on a quest to better understand this quality of joy that is independent from life’s tumult. A careful reading of the Bible tells me that I have plenty of reasons to be full of joy.

As I study, I trust that the Holy Spirit will teach me all about joy: reasons why I ought to be full of joy, how to recognize them, yield to the joy that God promises me, how to become aware of, and remain impervious to, things that threaten my joy, and any other lessons that He may have for me.

One wonderful lesson about joy unspeakable and full of glory:

My joy is wrapped up in one Hebrew word from the Old Testament “Yeshua”! For those of you who may not know, Yeshua is the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord.  According to the concordance, this particular Hebrew word, “Yeshua” appears 78 times and it means, deliverance, salvation, welfare and prosperity! To discover these references to Him in the Old Testament thrills me since He did not show up in human history until the New Testament - hundreds of years later!  I've chosen just one reference to include here, one that delights me and one I trust will bless you too.

"Behold, God is my salvation (Yeshua!); I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."(Yeshua!) Is 12:2

Let us trust Yeshua anew - He, who has become our salvation. Why fear, then, if we trust Him? Fear and trust in His strength cannot co exist. We either yield to one or the other. I choose Yeshua!

Fear sings no songs, creates no art and is blind to beauty. Fear is incapable of it. He, who has become our song, has the power to strengthen us and to unleash creativity within us for the visual music of joy unspeakable and full of glory!

So as Christian artists, let us sing in paint, pen, ink, clay… the songs that celebrate His salvation and strength, songs that transform our weaknesses into something bold, unafraid and beautiful.

See more on the theme of Rejoice!