Joy...what exactly is it? Joy is a feeling of great happiness or pleasure. It is an attitude I feel God wants His children to have every day. But it is easier said than done because some days are simply more challenging than others. I am discovering that there is grace to access joy when I choose to. This means that I am responsible for finding my joy if I have lost it or it appears that it is hiding behind difficult circumstances. So, how do we swing the joy bat when life throws us a big curve ball? How do we find joy when we are enduring situations that continue to hurt or linger? Where is the joy when you feel you are standing alone?
I don’t have all the answers but I do have some experience in the above circumstances. I have found that it is easy to be joyful when life is going like you like it. Most of us would agree that life doesn’t always go like we plan. One of my life scriptures is in Psalms 16:8-11 which says, “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my inner man rejoices and my body will rest secure. You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence with pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)
The important thing for me in managing my joy is keeping the right focus. I do much better when I look at how powerful God is and how much He loves me instead of looking at my problem or dilemma. His love never fails. He is always loving me and no matter what happens in life, I must focus on His love and goodness.
As a former gymnast and coach, I know how important focus is to maintain your balance when you are on a balance beam. The right focus is the difference in staying on and falling off. The same is true in life. If my focus is negative, my outlook and attitude will be too.
Psalms 16 also says I am not alone. He is holding me by the right hand. When I picture myself holding His hand I am much more confidant and secure. Do you let Him hold your hand?
I love the determination of the psalmist here when he says, “I WILL not be shaken.” Our will is a powerful thing that we can use in a positive or negative way. There have been many days I have had to live out of my will to do what is pleasing to God verses what I feel like.
Determination and endurance can be done with joy when you keep looking at the end result. Often times for me, it is to finish something well. There are some things you simply cannot control or escape and those situations test your endurance level. Anyone can quit, champions finish the course. For example, the first ten sit-ups can be done with a smile but it is harder to find joy and have a smile with sit up number 97,98,99 and 100. When I am in a situation that is an endurance race, I have found joy focusing on finishing vs. where I am in the situation. It is so much easier to do those last few sit-ups when people are cheering. Sometimes we don’t get that blessing and have to simply breathe and draw on grace and count the trial as one that strengthens us and that is our joy. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Look for who you can encourage today and sometimes we can find joy simply encouraging others.