I encourage you not to dismiss the Joy of the Lord as just something that is deep because while it is that, it also includes choosing to be happy. The true Joy of the Lord creates possibility, hope, life and motivation to keep going. It is something that empowers us by bringing in energy.
I have been speaking on Joy for a few weeks, and I encourage you to check out both The Number One Joy Sapper and Joy is a Way of Life for more practical tips to enhance joy and how to remove blocks that may be standing in our way.
This article is primarily to help you see that joy is YOUR superpower in Christ Jesus. If you want the energy to persevere, the courage to take a risk, if you want that dead set, lock into a relationship, that no matter what the other person throws at you, the Joy of the Lord is going to be your strength and shield – you’ll want to keep reading (or check out this podcast if you would rather listen.)
I like to go back and look at examples where people apply the Joy of the Lord as their strength and one of the stories that immediately comes to mind is the story of Paul and Barnabas showing joy as they sang in jail. If you remember the story in the new testament, Paul and Barnabas had been imprisoned. Their jails certainly were not anywhere as posh as our jails of today. They were in quite a different situation but decided to sing anyway. As a result, they were a testimony to the other people there, including the guards.
There are countless others who have done the same thing over the centuries. We have so much recorded evidence in history of people celebrating and praising the Lord and genuinely being able to enter into an attitude of gladness even in the midst of incredible suffering – suffering that some of us haven’t come anywhere close to experiencing. Their joy was their super power that bolstered their faith in the midst of severe difficulty, and that is what is available to us.
Choosing joy in the midst of difficult circumstances is not ignoring that the circumstances are difficult. In fact, it is acknowledging that the circumstances are difficult and that you are suffering and at the same time you are choosing not to let that define who you are or who you are called to be.
That is what choosing joy in those moments is all about.
If instead, we choose discouragement, hopelessness, or cynicism. What possible fruit do those attitudes have?
One of those fruits is pride.
There is pride about being right, we like to be right. Your circumstances are difficult. You knew they were. You are right.
Discouragement leads us toward the idea that we get to feel validated: “I worked hard. This is terrible, and I get to be right about the fact that this is terrible.”
If I claim defeat, I may be miserable but I absolve myself from any responsibility. It is not up to me to fix anything. No perseverance is necessary, and I am no longer required to participate.
We play the victim so that we can sit in our pride. “I’ve done all I can do, there is nothing I can do or say to make the situation any different.”
This attitude can be very tempting.
Remember that you are a Christian, and by default that means acknowledging that the Lord is in charge. If you identify as a believer, then like it or not you are telling others how you live your life, and what is possible through the work of Jesus in your life and what strength is available through Jesus Christ.
The option to identify as a Christian and not send some sort of message about what Christ is capable of doing in your life does not exist. Unbelievers can not tell the difference between when you aren’t picking up the tools available to you, or when they just don’t appear to work. They don’t know what is going on. They just see you as a miserable Christian. Then they decide: “If that is what Christianity looks like, I don’t want any part of it.”
The Joy of the Lord is our strength, and if you are a believer you are called to live that testimony. I encourage you to pick up your weapons, and one of them is the Joy of the Lord! It is the strength to get back up when you fall.
Last year was one of the most difficult and stressful times our family has ever had, and yet, if you ask my husband he will tell you that I was thriving. Why? Because of a steady focus, a choice I made over and over again, to continually focus on the Joy of the Lord. Yes it was all Him, he provides the tools, he gives us the gift, but we have to choose to do something with it.
When I was continually focused on the Joy of the Lord, then I was able to feel genuinely encouraged, and able to give testimony of that to other people in my life. This doesn’t mean I never experienced times of weariness or sadness, but the overall result was that I was in a place of trust.
Now, I understand it seems really easy to say that the Joy of the Lord is my strength, but that it seems very vague. Sure, the Joy of the Lord is my strength – but how do I tap into that strength?
If you are like me and have a tendency to look for tangible ways to apply these principles – here are some ideas.
Make a playlist. I sat down on the couch one night in the middle night when I was feeling discouraged, and I searched for a really long time for new songs to add to my playlist. Songs that could uplift me, and bring the focus back to God. Something that would revive my energy, and lift my spirits. Then when I was alone, and my mind started to wander- I would play this playlist.
Talk to God. I took regular time to talk to God. I really dove into telling him completely what I needed, what I was longing for, what I didn’t understand. Much like a child does, when they are scared and talking to their parent.
Trusting the Lord doesn’t mean we are not ever tempted to worry, but it means we continually over and over bring this back to God. Trusting in him.
Get giant post it notes! I also bought a big pack of post-it notes and plastered them all over my bedroom wall, acknowledging everything God had brought to me. I didn’t want to write these things in a journal and lock them away, I wanted them where I could see them every day. I wanted to choose to be grateful for everything God was doing in my life.
The Joy of the Lord is something that God provides. It is available to us each and every second of every day, but we have to choose to take hold of it. Friends, we have this amazing tool of the Joy of the Lord that is available to us, but we have to choose to use it.
The Joy of the Lord IS your strength.
Not might be.
Not could be available to you some day when things are going better.
NO. It is your strength today. The question is will you pick it up and use it today? How will you choose to pick up the Joy of the Lord and use it today? I encourage you to pick one of the ways I have shown you and start applying it.
We are witnesses and testimonies of Christ to other people and the way we do that is demonstrate that hope is real, that joy is possible. That means we have to pick up our weapon and choose to use it every day.
Let me know how you are choosing to apply Joy today, I would love to hear from you – comment below!
If you are looking for accountability for choosing joy each and every day in your life, book a call with me, and let’s talk about which of my coaching options is right for you – you can find more information about them here at Mary Aldrich Coaching.
You can also apply for a spot in Supermom School where you can get practical biblical tools along with weekly coaching and training to help cultivate the Joy you are longing for in your life.