Does joy seem elusive when you're traveling through a long hallway? Do you feel like you've lost your sparkle when life gets tough?
There are many times in life when we don't feel like rejoicing, and certainly the Bible indicates that will be seasons of sadness. But as I've thought about and prayed over the direction of the blog, I'm realizing that I want to take some time to focus on developing a habit of joyful thanksgiving in addition to our posts on suffering.
After all, as Christians, we have the hope of Eternal Life, where we will spend forever with the Lord! All of our struggles here on Earth should pale as mild afflictions in comparison to the joy of Eternity with God.
But just because we have that hope doesn't always mean that choosing joy is the easiest decision to make. So while it's good to contemplate the benefits of suffering, I also want to add in posts about the joy, hope, and peace that our Heavenly Father offers us right here, right now, before we reach Heaven.
So today, let's discuss three Biblical ways to find joy no matter what our circumstances are.
Find joy in the Lord's strength, not in your own ability
"Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." -Nehemiah 8:10b, NKJV
At my baby shower for Wing Man, the ladies who attended each gave me a bit of Biblical parenting wisdom. I specifically remember one mom of five who told me, "There will be hard days. And on those days, you just gotta say through gritted teeth, 'the joy of the Lord is my strength!'" I've tried to keep that in mind over the years, and as my faith matures and grows, I'm realizing more and more just how good this bit of advice was.
When I begin thinking that I have my own ability to create joy in my life, I've shifted my focus off the Lord and onto myself. I've set myself up for failure because I have no ability to find joy apart from God. The Bible clearly tells us where to find our joy, and it's not in ourselves at all. It's found in the Lord's strength, and in His strength alone.
Find joy through the Holy Spirit, not in yourself
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." -Galatians 5:22-23a, NKJV
We as Christians have an amazing support system, the Holy Spirit. He is equipping and enabling us to accomplish whatever task the Lord has given us to do. And that includes choosing joy. Our natural, sinful tendency is to grumble and complain, but with the Holy Spirit's help, we can make the choice to be joyful.
Too easily, I get caught up in thinking I have to find joy in myself, that if I just dig down deep enough, I'll figure out some way to be happy all on my own. But this thinking is incredibly selfish, proud, and worldly. It's the Holy Spirit's work in us that brings about joy.
Find joy in the Lord, not in your circumstances
"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." -Habakkuk 3:18, NKJV
I've come to realize that when I feel joyless, when it seems like my circumstances are anything but pleasant, it's an indication that I'm looking for my joy in the wrong places. People, circumstances, and events can't give me Godly, lasting joy. It's only when I rejoice in the Savior that I am truly happy.
If you're feeling as though you've lost your joy, ask yourself what it is that you're looking to for happiness. Are you depending on things or people to provide your joy? If so, pray and ask the Lord to help you find your joy in Him and Him alone. There is no lasting rejoicing apart from Him!
No matter what we're going through in life, we as believers can always choose joy. We're not limited to our surroundings to make us happy. By finding our joy in the Lord's strength, allowing the Holy Spirit to produce our joy, and rejoicing in God Himself, we can develop an ongoing habit of joyfulness. It will take work, but what a testimony to those around us when we rejoice in all circumstances!