Ever wonder where all the joy went? Christians are supposed to have it, aren’t they? Joy? Shouldn’t we be the happiest, most joyful people on earth? We felt it when we first believed in Christ. But what happened?
In this post, we’re going to talk about three things we can actually DO to bring joy into our lives. We don’t have to wait around hoping joy will fall out of the sky.
So, let me tell you a little true story that got me thinking about this.
I come out of Walmart pushing a cart carrying the things I forgot on my last trip and absolutely have to have. I scan the parking lot for the Dodge dually where my husband will be waiting patiently. He’s one of those few men who can wait in a parking lot for his wife without complaining. I spot the truck toward the back of the lot and see him watching me as I push my cart toward it.
We load the truck and when we’re on our way, he tells me, “You need to smile more.”
I smile all the time.
I’m told I have a very pretty smile.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“You should see your face,” he says.
“What about my face?” I ask.
I’m not smiling now, for sure.
“You don’t look happy.”
“I’M HAPPY,” I say, wondering what in the world he’s talking about.
“Well, it’s not showing on your face.”
I give my best defense:
“My mouth just naturally turns down at the corners.”
“I wonder why?” he asks, his corners turning up in an impish grin.
He’s implying that my corners don’t turn up because they don’t get enough practice?
At that point, he smiles that dazzling smile of his and steers the conversation into safer territory.
I think about it as we drive on. Do I really look that unhappy? What do the Walmart passers-by think when they see my down-turned corners?
Do they say, “There’s a happy woman. I want to be just like her.”?
I look at my husband who is smiling as he drives and think, I need to smile more.
I knew we were going to write about joy this month.
I’ve been considering what to include in this article for days. I read several scriptures about joy. Made a few starts at writing, but couldn’t quite get going.
This morning, as I was emerging from sleep, the scripture Psalm 118:24 came into my mind.
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Only I made it personal, “I” will rejoice and be glad in it.
I’ve awakened like this before, but today it was different. I felt like God was nudging me. I
determined to make this a habit—acknowledging that God has made the day before I even get out of bed. God has plans for this day. Good plans. For me.
It may not look good on the surface. Maybe there’s something happening today that I’m not looking forward to. But God saw this day long before I was born.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
So, I’m going to rejoice and be glad this day before it even begins because God made it just for me. It’s mine. And it’s good.
There’s something about making up our minds in advance that helps us carry through with things. In January, I decided to get off sugar until next Christmas. Not all the hidden sugars, just the obvious stuff like cake, candy and ice cream (the unholy trinity) and sugary cereals. I told my family about it because I’m much better at staying on the wagon if I’m accountable. So it’s now August, and other than three very minor infractions, I’ve kept off sugar, losing 35 pounds as a result.
We seldom keep our commitments if we don’t speak them out loud. Or write them down. Or tell someone.
We have to make our choice before the moment comes. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.
But what does rejoicing even mean?
Isn’t it just a spontaneous response to some outside influence? Like going crazy when you win the lottery or something? Can I just rejoice whenever I want to?
The word re-joice gives the impression of doing something again, like re-fueling our car when it gets empty.
Sometimes we just need to re-joy.
Life lets our joy leak out, and we find ourselves sputtering to a stop.
We know what to do when we need gas (or diesel, in our case). We go to the GAS station. Now, some of you think I’m going to tell you to go to church to get joy. No. That’s not the place to get joy. You should be on full before you get there.
Where do Christ-followers go to get their instructions for living? The Word of God (which includes but is not limited to the Bible). God speaks in all sorts of ways to His children. Let’s look at some of the ways the Bible tells us to get joy.
Dance for Joy
In I Peter 1:8 we’re told to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The word rejoice is translated from the Greek word agalliao’ which means to jump for joy.
I understand this as saying we don’t jump because we have joy. We jump to get joy. I know this works because I’ve done it many times. I’ve been so depressed and discouraged that I could hardly get off my bed, but I’ve jumped up and down, praising God for who He is: my deliverer, my lover, my peace.
It has never, ever failed to work. Sometimes, I’ve had to do it again and again, but it has always brought me out of my funk and into joy.
In Psalm 21:1 King David says he will joy and rejoice in the Lord.
In this instance, the word rejoice is translated from the word gul. Which means to spin around.
That seems silly.
Yeah. That’s what David’s wife, Michal, said when her husband danced without his royal robes as the Ark of the Covenant came into Jerusalem. II Samuel 6:16
It didn’t work out well for her. She got replaced.
David danced with all his might before the Lord. He took off his royal robes because he was dancing before the true king. The Ark of the Covenant was representative of the presence of God. David was dancing in God’s presence.
Rejoicing is action. It’s doing something.
In Luke 6:22-23 Jesus told us to ” . . . rejoice and leap for joy when people despise us and exclude us and say all manner of evil against us for His sake, for our reward is great in heaven.
What? How can I possibly do that? Okay. I’m supposed to jump up and down for joy when people despise me? When they leave me out? When they gossip about me? That just doesn’t make sense! But it works!—and it beats crying. Maybe we should try it. Jesus did.
In Luke 10:21 Jesus agalliao’d (jumped for joy) and praised His Father. Most versions say rejoiced, but remember the original word means jump for joy.
Jesus was despised wasn’t He? And the Pharisees falsely accused Him and called Him evil when He was goodness incarnate. He didn’t think it was silly to jump up and down and praise and give thanks to His Father, so why should we?
What’s another way our instruction book says to get joy?
Shout for Joy
Psalm 5:11 But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy,
to creak or emit a stridulous sound, that is, to shout aloud for joy, cry out, be joyful, rejoice, sing aloud for joy, triumph
We get the singing part, but are we really supposed to shout?
Have you ever felt so frustrated you wanted to scream? Anyone ever find a private place and actually do it? Did it help? Maybe.
I’ve always loved to cook with a pressure cooker. They’re so fast, and they keep the flavor in the food. But there’s a lot of pent up steam in that pot. If you open it without letting it vent properly, you could get seriously burned (thankfully there are safeguards in the newer versions, so I wouldn’t be afraid to buy an Instant Pot! I did and I love it!).
Sometimes when I’m struggling, I go around my house just shouting: Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!
There’s something about shouting it aloud that drives back the oppression and releases joy. Of course, I thank God silently, or in a quiet voice as well, but sometimes nothing but shouting will do the job.
But how are we supposed to shout so no one can hear us?
Okay. I’ll grant you shouting can be a problem. Most of us do not want the whole neighborhood to think we’re crazy.
Of course, if we were to win the lottery, we probably wouldn’t worry about what the neighbors think. Just saying.
But there are ways to shout without attracting so much attention. We can shout in a whisper. Really. You can get in your closet and close the doors. You can take a drive and shout in your car.
We can shout if we really want to. Great things happened when God’s people shouted. The walls of Jericho fell down flat. Enemies fled.
I understand that most of us weren’t raised to dance and shout in church.
But who’s talking about church?
I’m talking about our personal, private communion with God.
Sing for Joy
We’ve already covered singing for joy to an extent. It goes along with shouting. But notice I didn’t say “listen to music” for joy. I love modern worship music. It’s great to listen to. And I can feel God’s presence in it. But sometimes it’s hard to sing. So if that’s your choice of worship music, you might want to learn those words! Or find some songs that you can sing for the purpose of private worship.
Psalms 98:4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
At one point in my life, I was teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. My mother had suffered one when she was about the same age. I felt myself slipping into an abyss that I couldn’t pull myself out of. I started singing this simple little song over and over again. For days.
Joy, joy, joy
In my heart is ringing
Joy, joy, joy
Jesus keeps me singing
Singing of His wondrous love for me
Telling how He died to set me free
Filling all my life with victory
Joy, joy, joy
The joy returned to my heart and I didn’t fall off that cliff. The power of a song of praise is amazing. Read my story about depression here.
Coming into His Presence
None of this is about us. It’s all about the Lord. He is worthy of our praise. It’s about considering the magnificence of our God. The glory. It’s seeing Him for Who He is. It’s reminding ourselves how good He is. Being in God’s presence brings true joy.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
What a wonderful promise! The filled-to-the-rim fullness of joy is in the presence of God!
I met my husband online (and no, he didn’t turn out to be a serial killer as my family feared). He turned out to be my best friend and my sweetheart. We talked across state lines for a long time before we met, which was great, but I didn’t really get to know him until we met in person. It was just a different being in his presence. I could see the kindness in his eyes. I could feel their warmth. Christians don’t like to use the word energy since it has a New Age connotation. But I could feel his energy, spirit, essence, whatever you want to call it.
We can pray to God, but it’s kind of like talking over the phone unless you really focus on Him. Unless you look Him in the face, so to speak.
In His presence, there is FULLNESS of joy!
Who doesn’t want joy like that? I want it. And I’m quite certain you do too. So, let’s leap for it. Shout for it. Do whatever we have to do to get it. I’m sure we won’t be sorry.
We have another tool to talk about. Rebecca is going to share with you how she sets up “Re-Joy Reminders” on her phone.
These reminders pop up at a designated time to remind her that it’s time to re-joy. This is a wonderful way to use technology for good. So print the PDF of Re-Joy Reminders here and have it ready as Rebecca guides you through this short, easy video.
And don’t forget to print out your Mindful Mutterings here and learn how to trade the lie for the truth about the joy you can have. And if you aren’t signed up to get our monthly emails, please fill out the Let’s Connect form below the video. You can unsubscribe at any time. AND ONE MORE THING! Thank you for sharing with others. God Bless!