On Tuesday I shared 25 Common "Joy Robbers," which are notorious for breaking into our lives and stealing our joy. If your joy has been stolen by any of these villains, you'll be glad to know that there is a way to recover your joy! Check out these suggestions for getting back your Joy!
Ten Secrets to Finding Joy:
1. Give thanks in all things.
We are commanded to give thanks in all things - this includes the things we consider blessings and the things we consider trials. Learning to express gratitude for all of God's gifts opens our hearts to Joy. That is why Ann Voskamp dares us to find joy by counting all the little grace gifts that make up each and every day of our lives -- "God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy." (One Thousand Gifts)
2. Cancel the pity party.
Many times we steal our own joy because of indulging in self-pity and discontentment. We don't even want someone to point us toward joy, because we are having too much "fun" feeling sorry for ourselves! In such cases we need to ask God for the grace to confess and turn from our sinful self-focus and ingratitude. Thankfully, God promises to forgive us, cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and even restore the joy of our salvation!
3. Choose Joy.
Joy is ultimately a choice, and sometimes we just have to choose to act joyfully and trust that the emotions will follow. They often do. We know that joy is a choice, because we are commanded to rejoice always and to count it all joy when we encounter trials (problems, troubles, inconveniences). That means we smile, even if we don't feel like it. We put cheer into our voices when we speak to others. And we rejoice in our spirits as we carry out our daily tasks.
4. Overcome self-pity and bitterness by thanking God for your trials.
Self-pity and bitterness are two of the most dangerous joy robbers because they don't just destroy our own joy - they (especially bitterness) have a way of destroying the joy of everyone around us. God has given us a secret weapon for fighting these enemies - it is to thank Him for our trials! It is our sacrifice of thanksgiving that releases joy even in dark places!
5. Rest in God's sovereign control over all events of your life.
When we know and rest in the fact that God is sovereign over all, and in His infinite wisdom has allowed everything that touches our lives, it gives us peace. Furthermore, we can thank Him for every problem, knowing He has a plan for bringing good out of it, when we love Him and are yielded to His will. Trusting God in our trials allows His peace to flow into our lives, while thanking God for our trials lifts us up above our circumstances where He can fill our hearts with His Joy.
6. Spend time cultivating a love relationship with God.
One of the most intriguing verses of the Bible to me is Psalm 16:11 - "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence fulness of joy; at thy right hand pleasures for evermore." God has promised not just joy, but fulness of joy in His presence! The secret to obtaining this joy is learning to abide in Him.
7. Take care of the "temple."
We are complex individuals consisting of our physical bodies, our spirits, and our souls. Sometimes there are physical problems that hinder our joy. These may include fatigue, illness, hormonal imbalances, and mood swings caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels, just to name a few. To combat these, we should strive to eat nutritious food every few hours and limit sugars and carbs to keep blood sugar levels steady, drink enough water, and get some fresh air and exercise daily, if we can. Also, little things like taking a shower, getting dressed nicely for the day, and fixing our hair and make up (even when we don't feel like it) can have a surprising impact on our mental outlook and really brighten our spirits!
8. De-clutter your home and life.
Many times we are simply overwhelmed and weighed down because we have too much on the calendar, too much on our minds, too much in our homes, and yes, even too much on our bodies! Clutter can be very draining emotionally. It is freeing if we learn to keep only what we really need and what brings us or others joy -- in every area of our lives!
9. Encourage others and take joy in their joy.
Many of us will remember learning this simple acrostic at some point in our lives:
J - Jesus
O - Others
Y - Yourself
Although simple, this is actually a profound truth. Joy is discovered through right priorities - Jesus first, others second, ourselves last. Our culture has flipped this upside down and encourages us to "look out for number one!" and to seek our own happiness above all else. Then we are to be altruistic, giving to the needs of others (as long as they are in the politically correct categories). And God, if He is in our lives at all, comes in last. This is actually a recipe for a miserable, self-centered life! The Bible contains many paradoxes and this is one of them: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." When we turn our focus away from ourselves and our problems and start looking for ways to serve others and bring them joy, we will be amazed at the joy we have!
10. Start a collection of "Joy Builders."
"Joy builders" are specific verses that combat each of the "Joy robbers" in our lives. Use an online concordance (such as www.blueletterbible.org) and find verses about thankfulness and joy. Write the verses that stand out to you on index cards or in a special journal. Memorize these verses, carry them in your pockets, post them by the kitchen sink, in the bathroom, in the school room -- and rely on them to help you win the daily battle for joy!!
Don't be ashamed of the fact that joy is sometimes a battle! It just is. We live in a fallen world and the enemy of our souls does all he can to steal our joy! Be encouraged by this candid word of testimony from Joni Eareckson Tada:
After Ken leaves for work at 6:00 am, I'm alone until I hear the front door open at 7:30 am. It's a friend coming to get me up. while I hear her make coffee, I usually pray, "Oh Lord, my friend is about to give me a bath, get me dressed, sit me up in my chair, brush my hair and teeth, and send me out the door. But Jesus, I don't have strength to face this routine one more time. I have no resources. I don't have a smile to take into the day. But you do. May I borrow yours?" When her friend comes to get her up, she says, "I turn my head on the pillow, and I give her a smile sent straight from heaven. It's not mine - it's God's. Whatever joy you see today was hard won this morning."
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" ~ Philippians 4:4
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