A study released in Newsweek indicates anxiety, stress and depression are at an all-time high. Another study in Psychology Today of more than 20,000 women indicated their number one problem was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Is life stealing your joy?
A major contributing factor that no generation before us has faced is the torrential pace of life we face every morning when we get out of bed. John Eldridge astutely observes, “We’ve been sucked into a pace of life nobody’s enjoying.” Think back over your week. How joy filled were the people you interacted with? The technology at our fingertips and the avalanche of information is like a tsunami on our soul. Surviving has become the norm. The smiles we see on Sunday morning get swallowed up by the weight of never ending things that have to be done on Monday. The cost is…our joy.
It’s caused me to question my own life. I found it disturbing when I asked myself, “Is my life characterized by joy?”
“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- Neh. 8:10
There’s a difference between having “joyful moments” and a life characterized by authentic joy. Joyful moments are to be treasured…however - a joyful life is a treasure. A life characterized by joy is one who is in
rythm with God.
- The Psalmist knew God as “…the source of all my joy” (Ps. 43:4)
- Nehemiah taught “…the joy of the Lord is your strength”. (Neh. 8:10)
- David prayed “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Ps. 51:2)
- Paul experienced “the fruit of the Spirit is…joy.” Gal. 5:22)
If “the joy of the Lord is my strength”, then what does that reveal about me if my life feels anxious, depleted or weighed down? If joy is a fruit of the Spirit, then what kind of soil is my soul planted in if my life tastes bitter?
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
- Henri Nouwen
Behind the bars of a prison cell, the Apostle Paul knew the secret of a joy filled heart was not based on circumstances. Joy is a transcendent experience. It has to be pursued and protected. Paul’s chains didn’t bind his joy. That’s why he could declare, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (Phil. 4:4 NLT)
Joy is worth fighting for and protecting.
The pace of my life has often robbed me of joy. “Drivenness” and joy cannot co-exist. A priority for me is to “reduce my life to the speed of joy”. Below are 7 insights to help me promote and protect my joy in the Lord. I hope they are helpful for you.
1. If I’m too busy to thoroughly enjoy the daily presence of God – then I’m too busy!
2. Joy can only be experienced in the “here and now”.
3. Being fixated on the failures of yesterday and fears of tomorrow steal joy.
4. A lifestyle of “Hurriedness” and “Haste” are never fertile soil for joy to grow in.
5. “Multi-tasking” is dangerous and adds stress.
6. Authentic repentance restores joy.
7. Use Technology as God’s tool…don’t let it rule.