Some of you reading this blog today may be feeling joyless. We all feel that way at times, but what I have grown to realize, is the definition of joy is inner contentment from giving rather than getting. Joy does come from external circumstances such as the birth of a child, or a job promotion and the like, but lasting joy comes from the joy of knowing the Lord and wanting to extend his love to others. When He becomes our place of contentment and our reliance is on Him, there is a deep sense of well being.
Max Lucado, in his book titled How Happiness Happens, tells us that money, prestige, power are not the answers. These things are fleeting and are the wrong door to happiness. He explains that happiness that is long lasting happens when we go through the door of giving; that doing good is good for the doer.
Some of my favorite sound bites from the book by Lucado are:
Jesus was accused of much, but he was never ever described as a grump, sourpuss, or self-centered jerk. People did not groan when he appeared.
He fished with fishermen and ate lunch with the little guy and spoke words of resounding affirmation.
Hundreds chose to follow him. They shut down their businesses and walked away from careers to be with him. His purpose statement read ” I came to give life with joy and abundance.”
I cannot recall when I began to sense that life was shifting from me being an energetic, “can do” type of person without regard for the why of doing. I had always been somewhat driven to achieve my goals giving a temporary sense of accomplishment. But then there is the next thing to do and the next thing– an endless list of doing. Although working hard and accomplishing goals can be a good thing but without the motive of giving to others, it is a joy stealer. If you are currently feeling burned out listen up. STOP. If your motive is self- driven, you will lose your joy because only when we give to others do we feel supernatural joy and life giving energy.
Back to my story….
He told me that joy comes in the morning. He led me to Psalm 30, a psalm of David at the dedication to the temple. David was recalling how the Lord led him out of the pit and that joy would come in the morning. My heart knew in that moment, that time in the morning set aside for worship and prayer, would prepare my heart and purify my motives. From that day until now, I start my days with : “Lord where are you sending me today? Let me be an encouragement to someone today.” And can I be honest with you? There are days when I need to encourage myself as well!
The last year has robbed us of many things. Covid marched into our homes as a joy stealer, taking the lives of our loved ones, causing people to lose their jobs, and a myriad of other sorrows.
Brings his joy in the morning. He knows what stress and sorrows you are going through and He desires to infuse your life with His joy. Make space early in your day to worship and hear His voice of encouragement.
There is a man at my local grocery store who collects the carts in the parking lot, sweeps the floors and greets people. He always stops people and tells them that they have beautiful smiles and he makes sure that they know he cares. I’m certain that he does not make a lot of money and that his work is not that stimulating, but you would think that he was the king of the store. He radiates love and joy.
I want to be like that. I want to be so filled with Jesus’ love, contentment and joy that no matter what I am facing, I will have a sense of peace. I know that the more time I spend with the One who imparts His joy, the more I will become like my friend at the store.
One day, I noticed a man and a woman entering the store looking down and my friend cried out to them: “Welcome to Harris Teeter! So glad you could join us”. He made them feel that they had just entered a space where family was waiting to greet them. A simple greeting and I could see it made all the difference to two elderly people who looked despondent.
Friends, a simple expression of joy can be contagious and we all know people who have no reason to be joyful and yet they lift us up.
Jesus knew that He had to face the cross. His extravagant love led Him and the joy set before Him inspired Him. Did I say joy as He walked to the cross? Yes! Scripture tells us that knowing He would be laying His life down so that we might have life in Him, brought Him joy. Talk about giving all.
And for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross. Why? Because He loved us and surrendered even His life for us to be joined with His Father.
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