Lately I have been realizing how much exists out there to pull us down. This world has a lot of unhappy aspects. Some I think are just unfortunate circumstances or the decisions of people around us, while others I firmly believe are examples of evil and the devil trying to attack us. Regardless, it is so easy to let the things of this world get us down. Stress at work, or maybe tension with a co-worker or an unfair situation. The economy and all the negative publicity and talk surrounding that. Illnesses or struggles those close to us are going through. Dreary gloomy rainy days. Too much on the to-do list and not enough time in the day to get it done. That constant struggle to keep up. And this is just naming a few!
Wow, that was kind of depressing to write, but necessary because it gets me to my point. God wants to give us joy!!! He does. He is our father and He loves us. Who of you would not want your children to have joy? Here are several verses that speak to this point:
Deuteronomy 16:15For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
John 15:11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 16:24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
God wants us to have joy, but He needs to be the source of that joy. It is easy to find moments of joy: A fun night out with friends. A weekend to sleep in and relax. An upcoming trip. The anticipated arrival of a new baby. A day of shopping (or golfing or whatever it is you like to do.) But that joy is fleeting. It is fun for the moment, but does not last. God offers us lasting joy. His joy can fill us during those fun times, but also during the tough ones I mentioned first. His joy can sustain me and make me smile even when I am having the most miserable day at work. His joy can pick me up even when I am not feeling well. His joy can bring a smile to my lips and a song to my heart as I am just walking down the street.
His word tells me I need to ask for this joy, and I need to trust Him for it, and He will make it complete. I have found that, in order to have this joy, I need to keep my focus on Him all day. From the moment I first wake up in the morning I need to be praying. As I am getting my day started I need to praise Him for all the wonderful things He is and does. I need to repent for the areas of sin in my life. I need to ask Him for what I need, instead of trying to figure it out on my own. I need to slow down to hear Him in my life. And when I do that, consistently throughout the day, He gives me joy!
Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means an expert on this! The reason I am learning all of this is because right now I am struggling with not having that inner joy in my life. Sure, there are many things in my life to be joyful about. Case in point, this little baby I can’t wait to meet. But, I also realize it is so unfair of me to pin my joy on this child. Or my husband, or a friend. They cannot bring me lasting joy. That is not their job; it is not in their make up. And if I focus all my joy on the excitement of this coming child that puts a really unfair expectation on him or her. Not that I can’t be joyful about the baby, and find joy in his/her development and the time we will spend together, but that needs to be outside of the deep inner joy that only God can give me. Otherwise I am expecting way too much from this child, and setting him/her up to fail those expectations. And the same can be said for my spouse, my parents, my friends. I can have joy with all of them, but they cannot be the source of my joy.
This is a learning process for me. I am trying to learn more about how I access God’s joy, how to internalize it and make it part of my daily life. What about you? Does anyone out there have more insight into God’s joy and integrating it into your daily life? I would love to learn!