Written by Andrea Stephens
The other day I wasn’t feeling so good/well. I had just come through an intensely busy time at work that left me drained of energy. I had a dull annoying headache, and didn’t even want to go out for lunch with a friend—you know I don’t feel good when I don’t want to eat out! Therefore, I declared it a sick day and stayed home. Well, while I was lying in bed feeling sort of sorry for myself, I started thinking about the word joy—probably because I needed some right then.
I thought about some of hard things that happen in life that try to snuff out our joy. We all know about some of those, maybe a broken relationship, being gossiped about, bills that are piling up, an illness, issues at work—the list is never-ending. And then, there is the everyday stuff that tends to wear us down causing joy to leak right out of our heart; you know, things like laundry, making dinner again, picking up after the kids, cleaning the house, car trouble, yard work, and an endless list of errands.
We can easily end up feeling overwhelmed and anything but joyful.
Yet, in the Bible, Jesus talks about us having joy no matter what is happening around us. Though some confuse joy with bubbly emotions that come when things are going their way, which is better defined at happiness. Happiness is generally based on one’s circumstances which are ever changing thus sending emotions on a roller coaster of ups and downs. But joy, especially as a Christ-follower, is different. Real joy doesn’t fluctuate. It is not based on our current situations or feelings, but on something deeper. Something solid.
So how do we have that kind of joy? A joy that is solid, steadfast and unshakable?
First, spending some time every day in the Bible and talking to God gets us started on our journey to joy. That may sound like such a standard answer, but it is just the truth. We are spiritual beings with a spiritual Father. Intentionally connecting with Him through scripture reading and prayer is essential. The quality of time is more important than the quantity.
Second, making sure we have a clear conscience before God is vital. Dealing with guilt or shame over something will definitely steal one’s joy. One of the things I appreciate about the program Celebrate Recovery (A Christ Centered 12 Step Program) is that it teaches people to end their day by asking God to show them where they missed the mark (sinned) that day—so they can ask God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). And when necessary, ask someone else’s forgiveness. So, keeping a clear conscience before God, is essential to our having joy.
These first two are areas where Satan will try to trip us up. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy—including our joy (John 10:10). He wants busy and distracted from our time with the Lord. He wants us feeling guilty and less than enough in our own eyes and the eyes of others. Shame is one of the first things Satan used against Adam and Eve and he still uses it today to keep us hiding instead of walking in the fullness God has for us. Let’s not let that be our story. Let’s pay attention to protecting our time in the Word, prayer, and confession.
Next, choosing to focus our thoughts and lives on the truths in the Bible will provide the solid foundation we need to build our steadfast joy upon. They are facts. They are promises of God. They are unchanging and unbreakable based on God’s inability to lie or break a promise. Now that’s good news!
Though there are hundreds of promises we can find in the scriptures, here are just a couple to get us on the road to joy, deep joy which the bible refers to as inexpressible and full of glory 1 Peter 1:8 NLT “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you don not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”
Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have become children of God.
We have been adopted into the family of God and are co-heirs with Christ.
The Holy Spirit has sealed us for eternity—we are heaven bound.
This life, with all of its issues, is temporary but heaven is eternal.
The best is yet to come. God is with us!
We are never, ever alone. Never abandoned, never rejected, never
forsaken, never put on hold while God is busy doing something else. He is actually in the trials of life with us giving us wisdom for our difficulties and strength so that we do not grow weary in our well-doing.
God’s love is unending! Think about it. We have never lived one unloved day in our entire lives.
Wow. Every single day of our lives we have been loved and will continue to be loved no matter what. Now that will make your heart happy!
Jesus’ forgiveness is available for the asking!
Scripture tells us that if we confess our wrongs to Jesus, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Instant gratitude and joy.
Jesus is praying for us! Seriously.
He is currently seated at the right hand of God and
is making intercession for us (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). We so easily forget this awesome reality. Jesus sees us, He knows the details of our lives, and He is speaking up for us to our Father. He is our advocate, our mediator, our intercessor. He understands us because He was human—He can help us because He is divine.
These are just a few of the truths found in God’s Word. When we take time to close our eyes and meditate on one truth at a time, it will begin to infuse our spirits with a fresh joy—the kind of joy that is sustainable and never to be taken away, even on our hardest or most frustrating days. Joy benefits us in many ways. Most importantly, it gives us inner strength which is something we all need (Nehemiah 8:NLT “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength!) Our joy will benefit others—those whom we are called to minister to as well as those we work with and live with.
Let’s not lose sight of the joy that is ours when we keep the promises of God in the forefront of our hearts and minds. We can do this!