The Bible tells us to rejoice. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” We are also told that Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. (John 10:10) God wants us to be joyful. He wants us to be happy. He did not put us on this earth to live a miserable life.
Webster defines joy as, “The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” So, how can that be a fruit of the spirit? How do we find joy in Christ? We find joy through Christ because we have all we want through Him.
A logical answer is found in Matthew 6:33. I have to quote it in the King James Version, because that’s how it sounds best to me. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added until you.” If we walk around looking for joy, we may not find it. However, if we are busy seeking God’s will and doing His work, we will find joy (along with the other fruits of the spirit).
We can find joy through helping others find Christ. John 3:29 says, “It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.” Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. In a way, if we are teaching others about Christ, we are the “best man” as we stand by and watch them become joined to Christ. That is true joy!
We can find joy through suffering. That sounds weird, but it’s true. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We only grow when we are tested. We are tested through trials and tribulations. If we are never challenged in our faith, we can never prove our faith. True joy comes through persevering even when it’s hard. If you never have to go uphill, you don’t appreciate the downhill coast.
I saw a saying Facebook that said, “Regrets? I have no regrets. Even if I could, I would not change anything in my past. Rather, I look back with gratitude because if it weren’t for my past, I would not be who I am today.”
Your past has formed you. Through struggles, you have grown and become more faithful, more patient, more caring, more compassionate and more human. Praise God for the speed bumps in your road of life, because those bumps formed who you are today. (Okay, I guess if I had tried, I could have come up with a better word picture there, but I didn’t. Just go with it.)
Joy is a choice. You can learn to be joyful and content. Paul said in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” He chose to be content. In times when he was hungry or tired or rejected, he chose joy, and we can too.
What are you doing to choose joy? Are you struggling with finding joy in your life? Do you feel bleak or hopeless? Are you battling depression? Follow these steps to help your joy increase:
Pray for joy. If you are depressed, tell it to God. If you are sad, tell Him. If you feel like you never laugh or smile, let Him know. Ask Him to increase the joy in your life. Ask Him to show you reasons to be joyful. God will provide. He always does.
Go outside. Studies have proven that sunshine helps your body in many ways. It improves your health and your mood. It helps you combat depression and even speeds up your metabolism. Sunshine helps you stay health and happy. Your mom was right. Fresh air really does do you good!
Take time to laugh. Read a good book or talk to a friend or watch a funny movie. Do whatever it takes to get the job done, but laugh! Laughter relaxes you and stimulates your immune system. It causes your body to release endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals. It even can help your heart. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Help someone else. Many times, we just need to get out of our own troubles. We get bogged down with our own lives. By helping someone else, it helps you put your own life in perspective. It also lets you think about something else besides yourself.
Replace negative statements in your mind. I’ve played this game before when I was feeling negative about a situation. Anytime I caught myself thinking a negative thought, I would force myself to replace it with a positive. If I looked at someone I was mad at and thought, “I don’t like her,” I would force myself to follow up with, “But her hair looks great!” It sounds silly, but you really can train your brain to think more positive thoughts.
There are many other things you can do to seek joy in your life. These are just a start to get you moving in the right direction. Above all, put God first and obey His will to the best of your ability, and the rest will follow. -Al