Just to give a little background firstly, what is joy? Well, it is a state of being that goes hand in hand with divine peace (peace from God) and is completely independent of external factors. In other words, it is not determined by the situation around us. One the other hand, happiness is a temporary feeling of pleasure from material things. Joy is a way of life, but joy is merely an emotion.
So where did God take me? Well, he created me to be someone who always questions human behavior. I really thought, why are we the way are? Why do we live joyless lives? Why is it so easy to be void of joy in our lives? I decided to ask those close to me and reflect on not only my experiences but that of those around me.
You see, from the moment we’re born, we’re fighting for joy and life, in conflict against the flesh and battling the devil, to ultimately be reconciled with God. We encounter forces both seen and unseen and believe we can control things by our own strength and we don’t fully surrender to God. We forget that the Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10 that the joy of the Lord is our strength. So, when things don’t go as planned, we fall down in the spiral of depression. There are so many things that can weigh us down in this journey of life.
Others’ opinions of us can take away our joy because we give them too much importance in our lives. We always want people to think of us a certain way, so when their view of us and our view of self don’t coincide, we have sleepless nights and worry because we want them to think of us highly.
Even how we view ourselves can steal our joy, low self-esteem, low self-worth and lack of self-respect can bring us down. We become depressed because we were not good enough, worthy of God’s love and grace in our lives. These are all lies of the devil from the pit of hell because the Bible tells us Psalm 139:14 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
Our opinions of others can also affect our joy. Always competing with people and being in constant rat race with those around us. We fail to focus on our lives and are overly concerned with other people’s affairs, comparing and contrasting ourselves. This mindset can strip us of joy.
One big thief of joy is also unforgiveness. Someone intentionally or even unintentionally offends us and now, we’re going around talking about them, thinking about them 24/7, we can’t even sleep because we’re thinking how much we hate them or how much pain they’ve caused us. However, Mr. John is peacefully sleeping in his house and you haven’t even crossed his mind in 2 months. Brethren, if you can’t let go of the things people do to you, you will forever lack joy. This is not a curse, but a simple fact, if we dwell on the past hurt and refuse to see the light ahead, there is no way to live a fulfilled life with great joy.
We’re often superficial in our thinking and don’t see the future that is ahead of us. Yes, we may not have the best life but at least we still have life! We’re blessed we’re even alive to complain about the lives we have. Unfortunately, we fail to understand that and lack trust in God. We’re telling God “you better fix my situation if you want me to glorify you by living a life of great joy. Whenever you feel this way, just remember 1 Corinthians 13:12 that talks about one meeting God face to face and knowing Him fully just as he has known us, and we will finally understand why He did all the things he did.
We also fail to make excuses for God, this sounds odd but hear me out. We find it is so easy to make excuses for ourselves and the people we love, so why not God also? Whenever I feel things are not going the way they’re supposed to go or like I deserved better, I just remind myself “No, God won’t forsake me, everything will work out for my good. He’s working behind the scenes, so it’s taking a little while because it’s going to be such an awesome blessing”. Sometimes this takes years to manifest, but at the end of the day, I can proudly say “thank you God for putting me exactly where I’m supposed to be”.
We also would rather feel other emotions that are not joy. Depending on our state of mind, we may pick happiness over joy because we’re craving that feeling of adrenaline over the more somber option of joy, great joy at that. All because we want to gratify the flesh and don’t want to think of a long-term approach of sustaining our peace. We sometimes even choose more negative emotions over joy. Instead of saying “I’m a child of God, okay? I don’t have time for this, God can fight for me!”. We engage in arguments, fights and scuffles because we want to express that inner rage and at the point, we choose to live lives of anger.
People of God should always choose joy, great joy. It is not only a fruit of the spirit but a way of life and something we should aspire to have in every situation. I leave you with this prayer from Romans 15:13 “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit”. This shall be our portion in Jesus name. Amen.