“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”.
Psalms 16: 11
We are in the holiday season! Thanksgiving was a couple weeks ago, Christmas is quickly approaching, and New Year’s is around the corner. I don’t know about you, but Christmas is my favorite holiday! As a child, I was always excited about every aspect of the Christmas season. Listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas rom-coms, baking cookies, putting up the Christmas tree (or multiple), and seeing all the Christmas decorations everywhere you went.
During this time of year, people are more generous, kind and happy. The holidays give us a reason to be extra joyful, but what happens to that cheerful spirit when the holidays are over?
One of my friends said something to the effect of “during the holidays everyone is in good spirits, but once it ends everyone turns into the grinch. After the holidays, there really isn't anything to celebrate.” Have you experienced this? Is your joy waning after the holidays pass, when there are no more Christmas decorations, gatherings with family and friends, matching christmas pajamas, gift exchanges, and the buzz of a new year fades?
Maybe holidays are already hard for you. Maybe you’re grieving a loved one that should be at Christmas dinner or experiencing strained relationships with family you only see during this time of year. The writer of our scripture, Psalm 16:11, is King David. He is reminding us that in God’s presence we will be filled with joy. This is not a temporary excitement, but it’s an eternal pleasure.
What I have come to realize is that I have been placing my joy in the hands of my circumstances. I have allowed external events to control how I feel and view God. If I can be honest, the past four months have been very difficult for me. Working as an administrative assistant at a university, teaching nine dance classes, doing ministry, having a personal life and trying to navigate the transitions of adulthood; my joy tank is empty and my hope has lessened. I have felt as if life is sucking the joy out of me.
How do we find and keep joy in the midst of pain, struggle, weariness, demanding schedules and mundane responsibilities?
I believe God has called us to live a joyful life. This doesn’t mean we are going to smile all the time, be excited to follow through on our responsibilities or even be in circumstances that are good. What this means is as we continue to fix our eyes on Jesus in the mundane tasks, He will fill us with everything we need.
For my birthday this year, I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a banner word for my 24th year of life. I believe the Holy Spirit said, “Joy”. “Are you sure?” I asked the Lord, hoping He would give me a different word. Because joy seemed simple, and I felt like I am typically a joyful person. I was looking for something more……deep.
The Lord reminded me that joy is produced through communion with Him. Lately, I have had no joy because I have been lacking closeness with Him. Many times we are searching for external pleasures to make us happy, but these things fail to give us lasting satisfaction. The holidays are wonderful and exciting; they give us happiness, but it doesn’t give us joy that will last.
Happiness is an emotion that is swayed by our circumstances, but joy is an inner stillness that is anchored by contentment and trust in your relationship with Jesus. This heart posture says that no matter what season of life I am in, God is good, He is faithful, He is for me, I have something to be grateful for and He will keep me through every season.
True joy comes from the Lord and is sustained by the Lord.
“Because I set you, Yahweh, always close to me, my confidence will never be weakened, for I experience your wraparound presence every moment. My heart and soul explode with joy—full of glory! Even my body will rest confident and secure.” Psalms 16: 8-9 (The Passion Translation).
I read somewhere that said “joy is God-focused”, and I don’t know about you, but I need joy that will surpass the holiday excitement, sustain me everyday, and refocus my heart on God. Be encouraged friends, the presence of God will feed your soul with everlasting and abundant joy.
Jesus, thank you for having everlasting joy in your presence. Your gifts are not fleeting, but eternal. Help me Holy Spirit to focus my heart on You when I feel like I’m drowning in life. Give me the courage to draw closer to You. Remind me of your goodness and faithfulness. Remind me of the miracles you have already done in my life. Give me a fresh joy that will last in the midst of my pain, struggles and busy schedule. In Your word you promise that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). I pray that your joy will fill me and give me strength to withstand every season I face. Amen!
Written by: Ashawrie White