Wherever I turn these days, I see slumped shoulders and hear sighs of weariness, disappointment and sadness. For almost a year people have hunkered down, given it their best to get through these discouraging times, but many are worn out. Especially in the dark month of January, the news is bleak, and circumstances leave little room for joy.
What if I were to tell you that pain and joy can co-exist, and that we can have joy in spite of all the negative factors. Seems unbelievable and far-fetched – but let me explain.
I had always been a joyful person and loved to live with vigour and adventure. But that all changed on November 11 of 2016. My second husband, Jack, went into our kitchen for a cup of coffee and dropped. While I was doing CPR on him, he died.
I thought becoming a widow for the second time was the worst thing that could happen to me, but I was wrong. Three months after Jack’s death, I crashed and burned and was diagnosed with PTSD. Where was the joy?
Yes, there is a stage where pain takes over our body and we’re devoid of any emotion except numbness and the constant flow of tears. We have to allow this to happen and run its course. But joy is still there; it’s buried underneath the rubble of sleepless nights, lost dreams and the intense pain and suffering of grief. You see joy is an endless resource of Heaven through our connection with God. Joy lives inside of us and is available 24/7. So how do we access it and apply it?
I was determined that God would help me get back my joy, so I went onto a rampage to rediscover it.
First, I had to cement my foundation and connection with the giver of joy – God. This is crucial because God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13) and without hope we cannot have deep, sustaining joy. We can have fleeting happiness that is dependent on our circumstances and gives us moments of pleasure. But God’s joy is different. It is the assurance of not just temporary emotion, but a promise of a lasting, fulfilling and a deep well of delight – no matter what life throws at us.
Secondly, I had to eat joy. We’ve heard the cliché, “we are what we eat” and that is true physically and spiritually.” Through the app, Bible Gateway, I searched for all the verses on joy. I literally gobbled them up by reading and chewing on them over and over. By doing so my spirit was rekindled and opened the door to the joy that had been hidden in the darkness of my pain. I got greedy and asked God to give me back my joy, to infect me with it and make it contagious. God as my loving Heavenly Father guided me further on my journey. I read more books on joy, I blogged about joy, I spread joy memes and Bible verses all over social media and joy seeped through my bones and soul.
back my joy, to infect me with it and make it contagious. God as my loving Heavenly Father guided me further on my journey. I read more books on joy, I blogged about joy, I spread joy memes and Bible verses all over social media and joy seeped through my bones and soul.
The third step was pivotal and continues to sustain my daily joy. I’ve discovered that thankfulness is the superpower to joy. Of all the Bible verses on joy there was one that rocked my world. “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV). I think I’ve become smart enough to know that when it says it’s “God’s will for you” there is something there for me and I need to pay attention. I’ve learned that when I’m thankful and I turn my eyes toward Christ to ponder His love and goodness, my soul and my perspective shift to give me a revelation of something bigger than myself. I’ve come to realize that thankfulness is a cultivated discipline that comes from the realization that God’s boundless grace does not entitle one to His blessing and joy, and it doesn’t mean I deserve it. But, as God’s adopted daughter and a recipient of God’s Heavenly blessings, I need to turn to him and say, “thank you.” When I do that, it opens the portals of Heaven and joy infuses my soul.
So, to have a daily cup of joy, I crack open my thankful journal and remember. I recall the smell of an orange peel, my hot shower, a loving text message from a friend, the gas in my car and the beauty all around me. That’s what thankfulness does. It elevates our thoughts to a higher level and takes the stance that, despite what life throws at us, we can choose to stay joyful.
Do you want a daily cup of joy? In spite of your circumstances, what are some things you can be thankful for today? Write down ten things you are grateful for and watch and feel your spirit shift.