Cruising into week three of a Joy30–a month of meditating on God’s truth about joy, and one truth stands out: some days you just have to choose gladness. As in, “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24).
I’m not advocating that we fake happy feelings, but I’m learning that God’s perfect joy, the fullness of joy that always exists in His presence, is a gift He makes available to His people if we choose to unwrap it. So how do we connect with this gift, especially when circumstances are anything but joyful? Here are three ways that have helped me.
1. Get loud. When I’m up against the wall, my worship becomes more battle cry than soothing tune. We have to unleash our voices and fight to regain our joy. Did you grow up with a hymnal? Then, take 5 minutes to proclaim in song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” until you believe it in your bones. Hip-hop more your style? Then, join Social Club Misfits with “War Cry.” At either end of the worship spectrum, you’ll be joining in with the rest of creation to “Shout out praises to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing!” (Ps 100:1-2)
2. Get out of the way. We can be our own biggest obstacles to joy. I get so bogged down in my plans and worries that I forget I serve the awesome Creator of the Universe. He’s the one calling the shots, not me. “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). The fastest way to kick yourself out of the center of your own little universe? Do something kind for someone else. Buy someone coffee. Text a friend who needs encouragement. Heck, just let somebody merge in front of you in traffic without grousing that they don’t give you the “thank you” wave. Choosing a little humility—getting out of the way—makes room for joy.
3. Get after the bigger goal. Sometimes tough circumstances that look destined to steal all our joy can actually boost our joy in the long run as we grow more resilient and full of faith. We can choose to get after the bigger goal of growing in our faith each time we train ourselves to see obstacles as opportunities for perseverance. I’m going to be honest: that’s not an easy mindset to adopt, but we’ve got the ultimate role model to follow: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
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