Joy. Such a small word with such HUGE implications. Do you have joy? Maybe you experienced it when you bought those shoes, or watched your favorite show, or maybe got a call from someone special. More than likely, you have had a glimpse of joy at some point today. What is the common factor in all of those scenarios? The joy was a response. Buying= joy, Watching= joy, Answering= joy. These joys are usually temporary and rarely ever sustain us for any length of time. Joy cannot only be a response, but it can be a way of living! Hard to believe?
Let’s try an experiment. I want you to smile. Yes, right now. Feels awkward, doesn’t it? Why? Because nothing happened right then to make us smile. So many of us, me included, have it ingrained in our minds that in order to feel joy, it should be a result of another action. We should be receiving something. Smiling for smiling’s sake and feeling happy just because, with no one else around, may feel awkward. It actually does so many positive things for you! Smiling can actually “motivate” your body into positive feelings. I have heard about studies that say just smiling can possibly reduce blood pressure and release endorphins (body’s natural feel good drug). When you think positive thoughts you can take control of your being- for the better!
Reality is, there are so many reasons to be joyful but there are also massive amounts of pain, fear, and loss in this world. Unfortunately, there will be even more times and even periods in our lives when we will feel sorrow, sadness, anger, etc. We are real and emotional human beings in a fallen world. Even Jesus, made perfect, felt sadness (John 11:35), was upset (Matthew 21:12), and felt anguish (Luke 22:44). In Romans 12:12 the Bible tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Be sure that Satan wants to steal your joy as well- so watch carefully and rest in Jesus! Hard times can still be used for God’s glory and an avenue for us to witness to a fallen world (James 1:2). You never know who is watching you.
Deep within us is the ability to be joyful. No matter what tomorrow holds, we know the TRUTH and that has set us free! (John 8:32) If I truly believe that Jesus, my hero and Savior, has saved me so that I can spend eternity with Him and God the Father in heaven, that knowledge in itself should be enough to make my heart joyful. Though we will see tough times, we have a steadfast promise of joy after this life is over- FOREVER! Sometimes it is so hard to think about forever when right now is right in front of our face. I distinctly remember when I first realized what forever meant. I was about 8 years old playing in my front yard. I remember stopping what I was doing and thinking how time after this life would be forever. Not the length of a commercial break or summer break from school, but forever. Infinite. Neverending. I remember understanding the weight of that knowledge, even as a child. If I am going to spend forever somewhere, I want to spend it with Jesus. What a gift we all have been given! He wants you to accept it and live it now! Makes you want to smile, doesn’t it? (And no, I was not always so philosophical as a child 🙂
When all of our heartaches, grief, and self-sabotaging thoughts fill our minds and hearts- our greatest Joy still remains. We can utilize the wellspring of life and joy from within and shine! Want to see a glimpse of heaven? Let the joy radiate! Hand over your worries, insecurities, comparisons, and hurt to the One who has washed it all away. Let Him show you how He has overcome the world! John 16:33 states “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Hallelujah!
When we begin to restrict the amount of control we give to material possessions, status, relationships, or even game scores in determining our level of joy (just to name a few) WE can be set FREE! There is a big difference in finding joy in these things (healthy) and letting these things control our joy (not healthy). When we stop allowing these agents control of how we interact with each other we can also become more pleasant to be around 🙂 Wouldn’t you hate to think that you were solely responsible for another human beings happiness? Or let your feelings hang on your sleeve so much that others become unsure of how you will react to them on a day to day basis? Talk about pressure! 🙂 No matter what happens, and there will be hardships, we can still cling to the promise of hope and joy that is in Christ Jesus. Easy to say, but try and let this truth be a comfort to you through your struggles. He will never leave us and no one can take that away!
That is power. I challenge not only you, but most definitely myself, to consider utilizing this power more in our daily lives starting in this new year. We are not perfect but with God’s grace we can begin to take back the control with a…