Is Your Joy Safe?

I have my joy back! It feels like cool water after a long drought. See, I thought I lost it awhile back. It felt stolen. But now my joy is safe, and I want you to lock yours up too.

One of the fruit we receive from God’s Holy Spirit is JOY (Galatians 5:22). I wanted joy, but it seemed foreign. I had gone through seasons of infertility, miscarriages, traumatic loss, and life changes on my own and I was so stinkin’ tired. (I see you. I know you’ve been there too.) I wasn’t a very loving mom or wife. And I was probably a fun sucker of a friend.

Truth is, My joy had been tucked into my hopes, dreams, plans, people, family, my life…all the temporary and fickle things of this world. The things that can be taken. So when some of them WERE taken, my joy left for good with them.

Is that ringing a bell with you? I wonder where you’ve placed the majority of your joy– a husband, a child, a job, a plan — and then poof, it’s gone. And you’re left empty and lost. That’s where I was.

Then Jesus came for me.

I felt urgency to lean on Him. To get to know Him through the Bible and talk to Him in prayer. I learned of His constant love, grace, and PRESENCE in the hard through His Holy Spirit. I started believing in my heart  the truth I’d known in my head for so long. That in Him I am not alone, I’m loved, completely forgiven, and empowered. I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me and His Spirit is complete.

I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me.

We read proof of the power of God’s joy when apostle Paul, chained up for his faith, wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 ESV

What we lose in our English translation, though, is that the word “rejoice” is directly tied to the Greek word for “grace”. Rejoice literally means to experience, delight, or be conscious of God’s grace. It’s mind-blowing and completely counter-cultural. It means, we can only truly rejoice if we are conscious and delighting in all the ways God is pouring out undeserved, unrelenting grace.

Joy is all about knowing God’s grace!

That’s why Paul could sing praises in a jail cell. Because no amount of bars could keep God’s grace and love away from him! Do you feel that?? Do you believe the same is true for you and I? No amount of problems, failures, addictions, bad days, — nothing– can keep God’s grace from you. I woke up today and praised God for loving me and forgiving me — for being my dad who will never leave no matter how much I stink at life. God will never leave us, so neither will our joy! That’s why we can rejoice everyday, even in the hard. Because no matter the crap storm we’re in, WE’VE GOT an IMMOVABLE GOD.

God will never leave us, so neither will our joy!

Where we hide our joy determines how easily it can be taken. People and situations threaten to steal our heart’s joy, but God keeps it forever safe. Take some quiet moments today to reflect on God’s grace towards you. That’s where your joy has been waiting for you.

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Happiness — see joy

Recent quotes from a well known speaker have raised red flags on my truthometer — particularly one that read “If you’re not happy, that’s on you.” It was like a carrot baiting readers to start striving for happiness. Truth is, happiness is a cheap, man-made, temporary version of what we really want. I looked up happiness in the index of my Bible and there was NOT A SINGLE ENTRY, instead it read, “happiness — see joy.”

I laughed. My truthometer was right.

Sirens were going off in my spirit for a reason. I’ve lived through some really unhappy seasons that led to growth and strength. They led me to a stronger faith in Jesus.

Social media is a plague that is spreading the idol of happiness. Truth is, we can spend our whole lives chasing, changing, and reaching for happiness and it will flit in and out leaving us frustrated and unfulfilled.

Believing that happiness is all on us, urges happiness forward into first priority in our lives and grants ourselves reign over it. Both of which are false. Not once did Jesus seek His own happiness. His joy was in doing the work His Father sent Him to do. And most times that was messy and hard. And we are His followers.

Not once did Jesus seek His own happiness. His joy was in doing the work His Father sent Him to do. And most times that was messy and hard. And we are His followers.

“If you’re not happy, it’s on you” may be a clever and catchy post, but living by that motto we lose sight of other things that are more important than our instant gratification of happiness.

The idol of happiness says, leave the marriage find another, you’ll be happier with that other one. Quit the job, there’s not enough money, you’ll be happier if you have more money. Motherhood is too exhausting, have a glass of wine, you’ll be happier if you go out more. Quit the friendship because it’s too hard, you’ll be happier without her. Move, keep moving, because a bigger house will make you happy. Until it doesn’t anymore.

Being happy is a blessing until it becomes our goal. There’s always something better, and then something better than that. Happier is out there somewhere. And it makes us feel less than because we can’t grasp it every moment of every day.

But joy, JOY is found by anyone, anywhere, anytime in Christ. It is God’s desire for His people for us to be filled to the brim with joy because that comes from God, not from man, and therefore doesn’t depend on our circumstances, our choices, or our striving. It’s a gift we experience as we do life with Jesus.

JOY is found by anyone, anywhere, anytime in Christ. It’s a gift we experience as we do life with Jesus.

As I looked joy up in my Bible’s index, here’s what I found…

Joy comes from the Spirit of God, it is not “on us.”

We find joy in worshiping God, in recognizing God is God and we are not.

There’s joy that we are saved, that we can give all our junk to Christ and be forgiven.

Joy in suffering because we are not alone in it because our God is with us.

Joy in servanthood! Serving people gives us joy!  

Joy is found always, in all circumstances. When we live with Christ.

Let’s not limit ourselves to finding our own happiness.  Let’s take the overflowing gift of JOY God’s Spirit offers instead. And let’s not be afraid of hard seasons. We need Jesus to flood our days with His joy even when it’s hard, because sometimes the hard leads to something good.

So we have a choice to make as followers of Jesus these days. We can listen to the loudest megaphone telling us what we want to hear, like that we can make our own happiness, or we can seek truth by reading our Bibles for ourselves. One leads to folly, the other safeguards our life.

 

 

*If you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship please seek help. That is not a matter of a lack of happiness, that is abuse and abuse is NEVER condoned by God.