“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Do you know that God wants you to be joyful? In fact, Scripture tells us that being joyful is His will for us. The Bible doesn’t promise us happiness, which is temporary, but joy, which comes from the Lord, and can withstand suffering and testing.
Have you seen the Pixar movie “Inside Out?” I’ve been told that my personality strikes a remarkable resemblance to the character, Joy. She was always filled with hope and optimism no matter the circumstances.
That doesn’t mean that I have no struggles in life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get sad. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. What I have come to know, however, is that to have real joy in my life, it cannot be based on the circumstances of my earthly life, but rather on my life in Christ.
Life happens and I am far from perfect in maintaining joy all the time. Sometimes I lose focus and look to the particular circumstance in my life, rather than staying focused on Jesus. That is when I allow my joy to be stolen.
That exact thing happened to me this weekend. I just got done serving at the food pantry and I was driving home. I always leave my time at the food pantry feeling blessed and joyful. Shortly after leaving, I found myself at a standstill in a makeshift parking lot on the highway leading home.
Normally, I don’t lose my joy over things like this and at first I didn’t. The traffic control person directed those of us in the southbound lanes to make a u-turn and then diverted traffic to a side road. No big deal, right?
Well, I got to the end of that road; along with hundreds of other cars in what was now a parade, only to find another traffic control person at the end of the road. Yep, you guessed it! This road was blocked too!
So, once again, the parade of cars was directed to make a u-turn and go back down the exact same road we were all diverted to in the first place! I lost my patience. I allowed my joy to be stolen by snarled traffic.
As soon as I realized what was happening in my mind and heart, I calmed down and regained my joyful composure. It was a great reminder of just how quickly circumstances can steal our joy.
Often I speak to people who seem to be totally lacking of joy and I find that it is because they are relying on circumstances or other people to create joy within themselves. Lasting joy in this world simply cannot depend upon circumstances or other people. Circumstances can change in an instant and, because we are all imperfect, people will, at some point, let you down.
The joyfulness that the Bible speaks of comes only from God. It is a joy that remains constant despite the ever changing circumstances of our lives. When we find our joy in the Lord, we become a living expression of His will, which brings Him glory.
So, what or who in your life steals your joy? Take it back! God is serious about his children living in joy.