These are crazy times we are all living in. The reality is that we have no idea the impact that the Corona virus will have on our economy and our culture. What we can safely assume is that things have and will continue to change. It appears that the pain and struggle is here to stay for a while. In light of this reality it will become more important than ever that we find, cultivate and experience joy. We have to be able to ease the tension and the pressure we are all feeling. Anxiety is growing, fear is crippling and so joy has left the building. Joy has been put on the back burner of the collective consciousness.
All of life is full of joy and pain. The real question is… What are we clinging to, joy or pain? We all have a choice to experience joy, or to allow the pain that we feel to stay stuck in our hearts and minds. We might feel like joy is an unattainable luxury like a nice house or a new car. Whereas pain is that unwanted relative that moved in and won’t leave. The truth is that you, and not your external circumstances or relationships, hold the key to unlocking the gift of joy in your life.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalms 94:19 (NIV)
So, what is Joy? Joy is a good feeling, or a feeling of good. It’s gladness, and cheerfulness. From a biblical perspective, the New Testament word for joy is closely related to where we get our word grace. The apostle Paul connects rejoicing, or joy, to peace. Joy is something that is sourced by God, but something you and I have to find and cultivate in order to experience it.
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”Rick Warren
Joy isn’t out there, it lives inside of you!
The problem is that we have bought into the lie that joy exists out there. “I will have joy when…”
- I have that job
- I make ____ amount of money
- I get married
- I stay married
- I have a nice car
- I have a good body
- People think I’m great
- People respect me
Joy isn’t about your circumstances otherwise joy would come and go 50x a day. Anyone can find, cultivate and experience joy… the only thing truly blocking joy is our own unwillingness to find and bring it to the surface.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)
Joy is found within… It’s an inside job!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Gal 5:22-25 (NIV)
Don’t fake Joy, Cultivate it! Seriously, people and especially Christians, have become so good at faking joy and happiness. Joy isn’t something you “fake it till you make it.” Joy is a reality that can be experienced. The path to joy is found in God’s presence and is cultivated through gratitude.
John 15:11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Abide in the Vine and in His love. Then you will bear much fruit… i.e joy.
I love coffee in the morning! It isn’t that coffee brings me joy (although I’m sure it could). No, what brings me joy is what coffee means to me… what it gives me – the gift it is. Coffee wakes me up. In the morning it is connected to time with Jesus before anyone gets up. Whereas after lunch I’m just using coffee. It’s about who I’m having the coffee with that brings me joy. We must spend time in his presence in order to access the joy already gifted us.
CULTIVATE & EXPERIENCE IT
- Laugh every day… watch/listen to something funny. Call someone who is funny, or who thinks they are funny (like me). My Daughter makes me laugh… not because she is funny but because she dies laughing at herself and I think that’s hilarious.
- Keep a thankfulness journal. Every day I have made it a habit to write down 2-3 sentences of things/people that I’m thankful for. Every day… even if that day was crap and I’m angry. If it’s possible, start your day with this practice before you start interacting with the world.
Figure out what brings you joy and do more of that!
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
What if you made a plan for cultivating and experiencing joy with whomever you are living with right now? What ways do you cultivate joy?