Have you ever felt like everything around you is falling apart? You try to do a number of things to make yourself happy or to get your life back on track. You may have even tried to completely forget about what is going on.
People around you are saying things like, "you need to choose joy", or "you just need to trust God." In order to do this we need to understand what joy is.
What is joy?
Author and speaker Rick Warren defines joy as "... the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."
Google defines joy as "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness." Synonyms include: delight, triumph and rejoicing.
Then again it's more than that. Joy is like oxygen, it is always there. Whereas happiness is like rising bubbles, it feels good but it disappears.
Have you ever been just sitting with a friend, in front of the TV, or just on your own and you haven't been able to stop laughing? In those moments often we feel ridiculous because we don't actually know why we are laughing, but for some reason we can't stop. Well society and the Bible both agree that laughter is really good for us.
Health professionals have concluded that laughter is extremely good for our health. Helpguide.org says:
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.
The Bible agrees with this, Proverbs chapter 17, verse 22 reads: "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
However, in the world we are surrounded by attractive advertisements promoting happiness as a quick fix. The world is telling us that happiness can be found in alcohol, food, sex, drugs, movies – the list is endless. Whether or not they are promoting themselves as a form of entertainment which will make us happy, we are still going to them to find fulfilment.
We believe that these things will help us to forget whatever it is that we are feeling and provide happiness. What we are not told is they only provide momentary happiness. We find ourselves repeatedly going back to them in order to be fulfilled.
On the contrary, when you look at joy in life from a Christ-centred perspective it becomes a lot easier to live a life of fulfilment. The pressure we are searching for to become a more "positive" or "happy" person has been lifted as we comprehend that we can find joy in every situation, in every feeling and in every moment of uncertainty.
When you have a relationship with God, joy can become like the oxygen that you breathe, we don't have to continuously run after something to feel satisfied, and we can have it with us.
Words are powerful
Often joy can be created simply through the words we speak. Proverbs chapter 18, verse 21 reads "death and life are in the power of the tongue." When we are in a time of despair, challenge, or feel like giving up, it is important to be aware of the words we are speaking. If we focus on the hardship, or leave God out of the situation, then it is going to be harder to cling to joy.
Alternatively, if we praise Jesus and remain thankful in all situations, then our attitude changes and joy can remain.
Breathing is a natural and unconscious instinct. But not for someone who is drowning. As they are getting dumped by the waves and trying to put their head above water for air, all their strength is put in to trying to take a breath, desperately trying to survive. The thing they are so used to being able to do naturally is no longer as easy as it had been.
Joy is just like this breath. When our hearts are in line with what God is saying, joy becomes natural. Therefore, even when we are going through a hard time, it is up to us to focus our perspective on Jesus. When we do this, joy just becomes second nature.
Choosing joy, even when everything in life is saying you shouldn't, is one of the greatest things. It creates a place of freedom, allowing deeper intimacy with God.
Rebecca Bowie is a young Christian who is intentionally seeking after Gods heart and striving to love people with everything. Now living in Brisbane Australia, was formerly living in London, England. She's a full-time volunteer at Youth with a Mission.
Rebecca Bowie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/becki-bowie.html