Get Your Joy Back
Were you robbed? Has your joy been stolen? No deadbolt was compromised, no alarm system was set off, you just know at some point your joy had been taken from you. Was it all of a sudden or was it a gradual sinking into despair – so subtle a shift you barely noticed until it was too late?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)
The enemy is that despised thief who steals from us. He tries to mess with us and take everything good that Jesus painstakingly suffered and died for us to have.
Through the blood of Jesus at His crucifixion, we have complete authority over the enemy. No matter what he tries to do to us, we will always win! The Bible says that Jesus died for us to have a blessed, full, and happy life. The enemy has no place in our lives, he is below us, he is under our feet. When we feel ourselves getting down, depressed, frustrated or fearful, we must be armed and ready for battle. We must know The Word of God so we are constantly equipped with the necessary defense!
God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)
This scripture clearly states that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—even those from under the earth. The enemy must bow down to Jesus, and he must flee!
How do we get back those things the enemy steals from us? How do we restore and maintain our joy? The good news is that God is in the restoration business. He will give us back double for our trouble and beauty for our ashes!
The story of Job in the Bible is an amazing example of God’s pure loving kindness and faithfulness. The enemy took everything from Job, his family, his home, his wealth, his joy and his health. All through this trial, Job praised God and never gave up. Because of his faith, God restored everything back to Job. He gave Job so much more than he ever lost for the trouble and anguish he had to endure. Job let his faith be bigger than his fear and he got his joy back and was completely restored in every way!
The Bible says where there is pain in the night, joy comes in the morning. We are to have the mind of Christ and be completely transformed in God’s image. God says He will fight your battles for you and you will not even have to lift a finger in your own defense! The great I AM is never too busy or on a God hiatus. He’s always ready to fight for us. Call on Jesus … Jesus! He will never leave you or forsake you. He rescues you in times of trouble. He will honor you and deliver you from all evil. He will always cause you to triumph and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. With God, you are always more than a conqueror!
When you are feeling down and feel your joy and peace slipping away, get in the presence of God and boldly confess that the joy of the Lord is your strength. Pray continuously and trust that God can and will perfect all that concerns you. He will fight for you always … all ways!
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. — John 15:11
Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh-books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger — two quite extreme viewpoints of life.
The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.
KEY QUESTION: What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
The first order of business is to identify the difference between joy and happiness. For many folks today, being happy is fully dependent on whether life is “all good.” If someone asks, “Rate your life right now on a scale of 1 to 10,” often the number given is based on the number of problems present. Happiness slides up and down the scale, based on the perception of negative issues going on at the time. Problems rise; happiness goes south. Troubles begin to go away; the happy scale starts to climb. Joy, however, is not dependent on circumstances, and, in fact, ironically, can become strongest when trouble comes. The psalmist reminds us of the reality of joy that comes when we rest in God’s presence:
You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. — Psalm 16:11
KEY IDEA: Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.
Joy has more to do with remaining in the presence of Jesus than with avoiding problems and struggles in our lives. Harkening back to John 15, we know that joy is always available to us when we remain in Christ, through whatever life brings. Let these statements guide you to see how true joy differs from mere happiness.
- Happiness is a state of mind, while joy is a mind-set.
- Happiness comes and goes, while joy can be constant.
- Happiness is dependent, while joy is independent.
- Happiness is conditional, while joy is unconditional.
The apostle Paul had learned the secret to the joy found in Jesus:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:11-13
James drives home the definition of joy in the kingdom of God as having nothing to do with eliminating negative outward circumstances, but rather with embracing them as opportunities to strengthen faith and gain resolve:
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
Note the end result of choosing eternal joy — being mature and complete in Christ. Joy becomes the fuel for the believer on this road to maturity. Only Jesus can make our lives flourish in the midst of trouble. In him, joy is strengthened when life is challenging.
And finally, there is a source of deep joy available from an intimate place of serving Jesus.
Though some people use the terms happiness and joy interchangeably, there is a vast difference in their meaning. Both cause a pleasant emotional response, but the former relies entirely upon circumstance. As soon as difficulty arises and pain intrudes, a person ceases to be happy. On the other hand, joy is a gift from God that enables believers to find hope and peace—even when life seemingly falls apart.
At times, however, even Christians live joylessly. Sinful behavior, of course, is one reason. But there can be other causes, too, including regret about past failures, fear of future mishaps, or a pattern of discontentment that’s ingrained in one’s personality.
If you are a follower of Jesus but lack gladness, take a moment to remember who Christ is—and who you are in Him. To begin with, you are saved eternally, and your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The love of almighty God is unconditional, and His indwelling Spirit will never abandon you. He understands everything that you face and promises to provide for your needs.
When you stop to consider the amazing blessings that are yours in Christ, gratitude will likely overwhelm you. Sadness concerning circumstances may still endure, but the joy of the Lord will carry you through even the deepest pain.
Amid the ups and downs of life, does God’s joy sustain you? Or do trials leave you hopeless and discontented? Our Father offers a higher way of living—not without pain but with strength to endure. Continually remember the vast treasure you have in Him and His promises.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11 NKJV
Henry van Dyke had experienced many inspirational moments, as a navy chaplain, pastor, and author of numerous devotional writings. He also had been an honored politician (as United States Ambassador to Holland and Luxembourg).
But something unexpected happened to him one day in 1907 when he was visiting Massachusetts. Filled with joy at the sight of the Berkshire Mountains, he wrote words that became the powerful hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
Filled with overwhelming joy at what God was revealing, He described how he adored Him, the “God of glory, Lord of love.” Looking toward Him, our “hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” This joy changed our attitude toward life’s problems. His prayer: “Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away; giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!”
He saw God’s works all around, realizing that He was “giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed.” He was the “Wellspring of the joy of living!” He was our Father, and Christ was our Brother. He asked, “Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.”
Then, he invited people everywhere to “join the happy chorus,” marching with joyful music that “leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.”
He felt the only music that could accompany these words was the “Hymn to Joy” from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Today, in whatever situation you face, remember that God knows what you are going through. The Bible assures us that He is ready to help you be a victor, not a victim. He can give you joy in the midst of every situation.
During this Christmas season, be sure to allow the joy of Jesus to fill your heart. Praise His name.