People often think that joy and happiness are the same thing.
Well, they’re not!
Happiness is based on our circumstances.
But joy, on the other hand, is something deep within our souls – a beautiful gift God gives to us – and can be present even in the midst of difficulties.
Believers are the only ones that can experience true joy because it comes from God. But I do believe that many Christians are not experiencing the joy that can be theirs. Their faces reveal deep anger and bitterness. And then, of course, this inside ugliness spills out into their actions and words.
So, here’s what we need to know. Our circumstances can – and will – change like the wind. Just today I heard that a friend lost her second baby. A few days ago, she posted pictures of a glowing family that was anticipating the birth of their child. Now, they are grieving and preparing a funeral.
When circumstances are good, we are happy. But what happens when those circumstances change and we’re faced with insurmountable struggles? Of course, sadness, hurt and pain are typical reactions to not-so-good circumstances. But many people get stuck in that hopeless state and sometimes never recover.
Joy can get lost beneath the weight of overwhelming circumstances.
Happiness is temporary. Joy is forever.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that joy is something we want, something we long for. We desire an inner peace and contentment no matter what’s going on. We want to move on and enjoy a rich and satisfying life.
Well, joy is what can help us to do that. And Jesus is the One who offers us complete joy.
Here are two ways to make joy a reality in your life:
1) Learn to live with a thankful heart! If anyone is capable of telling us to live with a thankful heart, it’s the Apostle Paul. In fact, he tells the Corinthians about his many hardships along the way (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). And then to the Philippian believers he writes: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12).
Being content in every situation is not inbred in us. Paul tells us that he had to learn it. So do we! But it is possible.
We read in Philippians 2:14 that we should not “complain or argue.” This isn’t easy, is it? To keep myself from complaining and arguing, I try to find something good in each situation. If you have to, think of those less fortunate.
The other day I was driving behind a really slow driver. And I was late as it was. But then I reminded myself that I can drive, I have my health, and I will get to my destination eventually. As I pondered these things, I knew that I had no reason to complain. Indeed, I felt very thankful.
Being thankful changes our hearts. It can also alleviate depression, promote better health, strengthen relationships, boost self-esteem, rescue us from the pit of despair, keep our attitudes positive, and help to keep stress down.
2) Surround yourself with positive people! People’s sour attitudes can bring us down really fast. Along that same topic, we read in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company corrupts good character.” Sometimes it drains the life out of us. Obviously, we can’t always get away from negative people, but we can choose our friends and those in our inner-circle.
I know many negative people and some of them are close to me, but I spend the majority of my time around people who encourage others and who have positive attitudes. It really is a choice.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Without a doubt, this is one sure way to get our joy back.
Let me offer one last thing. If you are still on a quest for more joy in your life, study through the Book of Philippians. Write down every time Paul uses that word and what he says about it. There’s not a better resource on joy than Philippians.
Have a blessed day,
Upcoming Bible study topic
JOSHUA: HEAVEN’S MIGHTY WARRIOR
Begins January 8, 2016