Naturally a pessimistic and skeptical person, I’ve struggled to maintain my hold on joy. Life often feels like a grind we just survive through till we can get to eternity and really relax. Obviously, Christ didn’t promise us a life free from pain–quite the opposite actually–but even so, He offers us satisfaction and contentment, joy and delight.
Our ability to rejoice is often determined by these three things:
Who do I listen to? Our enemy would love for nothing more than to gain access to our ears and never let go. He’d love for us to think we are “listening to the voice of reason” when in reality we’ve allowed doubt, fear, and faithlessness to muffle the Mighty Voice of God. Our pastor told us recently, “Don’t let your enemy have the microphone.” Mute him. He isn’t worth listening to. Do we allow the hecklers to make decisions about our choices, about how much risk we will take, how much we’ll believe God to come to our aid, etc.?
What do I do with my time? Am I spending too much time watching mind-numbing shows on Netflix, listening to music that makes me restless or self-absorbed, reading news that makes me anxious and angry? My mentor–not through words or critique, but through action–has challenged me to start memorizing more Scripture. She’s memorized several chapters in the last few months and I realize that my puny efforts have materialized no such outcome for one simple reason: I haven’t put the necessary time into it. But, we put our time into what’s truly important to us. If we say Scripture meditation and prayer is vital then we should act like it is.
“Happiness among believers is proportionate to the time invested in the humble study of God’s Word. There’s nothing wrong with learning about sports and politics. But only God’s Word prepares us to live wisely and to die well. Joy comes from hearing and believing words from the Source of joy.” Randy Alcorn
Where do I put my energy (emotional, mental, physical, etc.)? I suppose this question links to the first two, but we scope out a little further (beyond free time) into our habitual activities (work, ministry, obligations, etc.). Obviously, living in a sinful lifestyle will destroy our happiness, but sometimes our seemingly benign choices can lead to ditches. Am I doing kingdom work? Am I living for something more than my 401K and my new boat (hypothetically speaking of course)? Do I look for ways that God is moving around me and join in Him in that? Do I allow for divine interruptions or do I compartmentalize? Am I me-focused or others-focused? Do I contemplate the bigger picture or get anxious about the little what-if details? Do I live with a big view of God?
The more accurate your vision is of God and His character, the more we can rest. And the more we are at peace, the more happy we become, because we truly do understand that He holds it all together–not us. Whew.
“As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you. O LORD, the God who rules over all.” Jeremiah 15:16