Photo by Ashley Jones 2016.
It’s human nature to want what we want, to be happy when we get it, and to be unhappy when we don’t. Only a crazy person would be happy when everything is going wrong…right?
A Spirit of Joy
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled A Clean Heart, which was about the first of eight major steps in our Christian journey. These steps, and how to navigate them, are the topic of the book I’m writing for young women: Girls with Gusto.
Step Two in our journey is A Spirit of Joy. As I researched this topic, the first thing I learned is that there is a difference between worldly happiness and godly happiness. Worldly happiness is a fickle thing, with its highs and lows determined by our current circumstances.
Godly happiness, or what I call joy, is tied to our relationship with God (see Psalm 43:4). I learned that if we will only anchor ourselves to Him, we can experience the kind of joy that never waivers, regardless of our situation.
An Excerpt on Joy
Here’s an excerpt from Girls with Gusto:
If God is to be the source of our joy, we need to be sure that His direction is as true and straight as the North Star. Otherwise, our joy would be as unpredictable as if it were based on the shifting circumstances of the world.
Thankfully, the Bible gives us assurance: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17 NAS). The KJV version states there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
I love that! There is no variation. No variables. There’s not even a shadow of turning. Not a hint. God doesn’t wake up grumpy or go to bed angry. He doesn’t tell us one thing today and another thing tomorrow. He is more constant than the rising and setting of the sun (see Isaiah 60:19-20).
This surety and steadfastness are extremely important qualities of God. If we are to have a solid foundation we can rely on, it must be immovable.
The Crutch of Circumstance
When I went through a rough patch in my early twenties, I realized that the world couldn’t offer me real joy. That’s when I began to truly seek God in my life.
Ten years later, as I was writing about joy, the Lord began to convict me once again. Life has been really good and, while I’ve been thankful to God for my blessings, I haven’t looked to Him as the source of my joy. Instead, I’ve limped around on the crutch of circumstance, accepting the mediocre happiness of the world. The fact that my circumstances were good doesn’t make my reliance on them (instead of God) any less of a sin.
So what did God do? Did He punish me? No, but He sure taught me a lesson! Here’s a short list of things I went through over the course of a few months:
- Robby began to travel a lot. For a while, we had more days apart than together. I didn’t realize how much I relied on him for emotional support as well as all the work he does around the house.
- Our sweet kitty, Sue, passed away. She was our fur-baby for over four years, so this was a huge loss for us. [Click here to read more about Sue.]
- My parents sold the house we moved into when I was 13. I like their new house more, but letting go of the past can be difficult.
- My grandfather had emergency surgery and, for a while, we weren’t sure if he was going to be all right. Thank God, he did heal completely, but it was a stressful time for all of us.
- I picked up every bacterium or bug came my way and stayed sick for days on end. These illnesses were putting a strain on my nerves, work, writing, and home life.
It was like everything in life that gave me comfort was being withheld, and every stressor had the volume turned up. Through it all, I felt God tugging me toward Himself, forcing me to look to Him as the source of my joy and comfort. It was a painful process, but I’m glad to be moving ever forward in my spiritual journey.
When things don’t go your way, do you feel anxious and depressed? Are you too stressed to seek the Lord?
When life is good, do you grow slack in reading your Bible? Do you get caught up in the day’s activities and forget to pray?
Remember that God is your spiritual food and water (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Whatever the day brings, you have to eat and drink, right? In the same way, you need to seek God’s presence and read His Word. If you can make this a daily habit, regardless of the situation, you can have the joy that comes from God—a true Spirit of Joy.