During October, I was on a mission to uncover joy, greater joy, in every day. I say uncover because I believe joy is already available and we need only open our eyes and discover it. Discover it I did, and now I want to share a few lessons I learned in the process.
1. Joy is a strength.
This is not a new lesson, as we are taught this in the book of Nehemiah. Yet I found myself learning it all over again.
The truth is that some days it is difficult to find moments of joy when all we do is look at the world and our individual lives through our limited perspective. Some days aren’t fun and happy but are hard and painful. On those days, of which there were more in the past month than I would like to admit, we have to dig deep to uncover joy. As believers, we know joy is there because the Lord is there, but it may not be evident from where we sit. This is where joy becomes strength.
This is where we treat joy as a muscle that we must work even before we see the actual definition in the mirror. And so we pray that the Holy Spirit would open our eyes to see the way He is working. We call to mind the unhindered faithfulness of God with us. We declare the truth of our standing before God as one who is rescued and redeemed and forgiven and free from the power of sin and death.
When we recall the grace and mercy of God toward us and remember that the righteousness of Christ has been given to us, we find that joy looks more like confident hope than a fixed smile on our face. Joy becomes our strength, our weapon, and our banner when life doesn’t look so great.
2. Joy is never scarce.
Have you ever thought, “I’ve got to limit how much I can have of this thing today so I can have enough of it tomorrow”?
Basically, this is the scarcity mindset telling us that we will run out, that we will not have enough, that we must hold what we have today and carefully ration it to make it last.
Maybe it’s holding onto a project at work for next week because you worry there might not be enough work for you then. Maybe it’s words you withhold today because you might not have any good ones tomorrow. Maybe it’s a favorite snack you won’t let yourself eat today because you worry you’ll run out of it before you can get more. Maybe, like me, you ration joy.
I was not prepared for this one, y’all. After the first week, my thoughts started shifting to this space where I was holding the joy I found today for tomorrow because I doubted I would find joy of its own tomorrow. I kept myself from fully appreciating all the joy that was available today for fear of not experiencing it in new ways tomorrow. Writing it down helps me realize how ridiculous it all sounds, but these were my honest thoughts. Maybe if you’re honest too, you can relate.
Let me be very clear. The Lord does not promote the scarcity mindset. He offers us life abundantly, He loves us endlessly, He forgives us unfailingly, and He extends joy perpetually.
His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He is with us every moment of every day (Matthew 28:20). In His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
We do not need to tamper our joy today for fear of running out tomorrow.
3. Joy is rooted only in God.
Joy may be sparked by something external, but its source is God alone.
During this month, joy was sparked in music, in signs of fall, in conversations and time spent with friends, in coffee shops, and in many other places. Yet every moment of joy can be traced back to the King of my heart.
In music, He spoke life into my weariness. In signs of fall, He testified to His sovereignty over time and creation. In conversations and time spent with friends, He reminded my heart of His desire for us to build each other up, to do life as one unified body of Christ, to fight against the isolation fueled by keeping our burdens secret and attempting to handle things on our own. In coffee shops, He opened my eyes to see the people He created in His image, He opened my ears to hear the sounds of life happening around me, and He opened my heart to fresh hope for the moment we find ourselves gathered around His throne with people of every nation.
The Lord is not limited in the ways He can speak to us. He may use coffee cups or Santa socks or sunsets or His own unfailing Word. He may spark reminders of His Word through the words of other people or lyrics written by fellow believers or sermons preached on Sundays. He may bring us to a rest stop for our hearts, a place where He leads us to silence the distractions so that we can sit with Him as He cleanses our heart and renews our mind.
My challenge to you now? Uncover the joy already around you.
When something sparks your interest, holds your attention, or shifts your thoughts to a better place, stop for a moment and ask yourself: “Why this? Is this joy? Can I see or experience God in this?”
Our job is not to impose expectations of how God will speak to us today. Our job is to turn our eyes to Him, to know His word, to settle into the place He brings us to and expect that He will speak somehow, someway. Today and everyday, as we walk with Him and wait with hopeful expectation of what He will do and say, we will uncover joy. We will uncover joy.