This past month, in my fourth and fifth grade Sunday school class, I’ve been working through a lesson on the topic of joy with the kids. They’ve shared about circumstances that seem unfair and yet they can pinpoint how joy can be found in that situation nevertheless.
For example when a friend breaks a promise, doesn’t keep their word, and let’s us down we can choose to find joy in the fact that God always keeps His promises. He’s the author of the Living Word. And He will never let us down; Psalm 54:4 reminds us that ‘God is our helper and the upholder of our lives.’ People are imperfect and fallible, but when we consider our relationships we can find joy in the truth that God is always trustworthy and capable with us.
Joy, simply put, is finding a way to be happy even when things don’t go your way. As a Christian that type of joy is found through our faith and relationship in Christ.
This time of year we see the word joy displayed on ornaments and Christmas decor, we hear it belting from department store speakers as we shop, or we sing it out during worship time in our churches. If Christmas were labeled with an emotion, joy would be of the top choices. It’s a word people often times associate with, or even accentuate on, during the Christmas season; however our soul can feel disconnected from the feeling of joy if our lives aren’t instep with God’s will — and honestly, the bottom line is that joy should surround our lives year-round.
Worldly desires and material possessions such as Christmas gifts provide us with temporary pleasure and can cause us to feel happy for a short amount of time. But maintaining a healthy relationship with Jesus each day brings about a lasting rush of inner calmness that settles over us with a blessing of pure certainty and peace and is ultimately defined as true JOY.
Months after the tree is down, joy is the only gift that shouldn’t have lost its luster; it’s the one gift that keeps on giving. The best part is we can take it anywhere and everywhere and when people question us about the joy we wear, not only across our faces, but the joy they notice within our hearts, we get the opportunity to open up and share the Christmas story and the gospel.
If joy feels absent, foreign, or far from your feelings dig into God’s word, study scripture on the topic of joy, and humbly ask God for a fresh start at a life filled with unending joy.
…and take it from my wise fourth and fifth grade Sunday school class, ‘just because you may be going through a hard time doesn’t mean joy has to elude you, God can use that trial to produce perseverance and maturity in Him and that is definitely something to celebrate joyfully about.’
Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful. -Philippians 4:4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 1:2-4