Is pursuing joy even a valid quest?
At Christmas, we remembered the words spoken to the shepherds, ‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”’ (Luke chapter 2 verse 10).
God’s intention is for our salvation to bring us great joy. We see it again in the parables of the lost sheep, the coin and the lost son (Luke chapter 15). Our salvation is cause for joy and celebration.
Here are three ways to increase your joy this year:
Remember God’s kingdom
In the busyness of life, we often forget we are part of something bigger and better. The daily decisions of life, the worrying headlines of our newspapers, the bickering of our leaders can leave us feeling overwhelmed and concerned about our future.
Yet when we turn our thoughts to God’s unshakable, forever kingdom, we find hope which leads to joy. This sad world of difficulties and tragedies isn’t all there is. We’re part of an unseen, unending and unfathomable kingdom.
God is working behind the scenes to bring about his purposes. His kingdom is coming and it’s a glorious kingdom of peace and righteousness, where there will be no pain or sorrow. When we remind ourselves that we are part of his kingdom, we are thankful and joyful.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. (Hebrews chapter 12 verse 28).
Choose the ‘God Perspective’
As we reflect on the long history of God’s people, from Abraham to Moses to David to Jesus, we know that God takes the long-term view. He’s not in a hurry.
History teaches us, he’s steadily working out his purposes in the world. God’s perspective is based on truth and therefore the only one we can trust. God isn’t worried about the troubles of the world, he knows they are temporary.
Likewise, we can take God’s perspective and understand that our time here is very brief. Our concerns are small in comparison to the work God is doing in his world.
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (Second Corinthians Chapter 4 verse 18).
So how do we remember God’s kingdom and choose his perspective? By worshipping him. Worship takes many forms. Many worship through songs, others through meditation, prayer or Bible study.
Worship takes the attention off ourselves and places it on God, on his character, on his kingdom on his plans. The problems of this world become surprisingly small and less important the more we focus on him. When we consider his power, his majesty, his holiness, our lives are reframed in his larger story.
This world isn’t about us and our achievements, rather it’s all about God bringing in his good and righteous purposes. As we trust him, surrendering to his agenda and timetable, we experience the joy of feeling safe, loved, cared for and protected.
‘Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.’ (Psalm chapter 100 verse 2).
As we worship, we become more keenly aware of all God has done and continues to do for us and we are grateful. Our salvation brings us joy just as the angels promised the shepherds. As all the events and activities start up again for another year, let’s not neglect to take time to stir up our joy.
The psalmist wrote, ‘Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.’ (Psalm chapter 149 verse 5).
This year take some time to lie on your bed and sing for joy.
Susan Barnes has been involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty years with her husband, Ross. They are now semi-retired and enjoy supporting a number of churches in north-east Victoria. You can find more of Susan’s articles at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/susan-barnes.html