Joy is not always easy, especially during the holidays. If it weren’t already a sensitive time for many, the year 2020 has proven to be quite the challenge. Everywhere I look people around me seem to be battling tragedy–not just because of the pandemic but other gut-wrenching scenarios. Cancer. Job loss. Death. How do you celebrate Christmas when your heart is too heavy to rejoice?
I know what gut-wrenching loss feels like and how grief can color the world around you. I also know grief has to run its course. It takes time. I’m not here to tell you that you must have joy. I don’t believe you can always choose it or turn it on or off. In fact, I went through a season when I simply could not choose joy.
One Wednesday during that trying period, frustrated and empty I sat down with my Bible to prepare for The Bite of Bread. As I poured over the scriptures I felt the shadows lift. Something within my heart began to dance. It was crazy. Life hadn’t changed. But my heart had. And a wonderful thought slipped through the wrinkles in my mind, You may not be able to choose joy, but you know where to find it.
Know Where to Find Your Joy
I love when God does that, when He whispers the most simple yet profound pieces of wisdom. Suddenly my struggle with the whole “choosing joy” theology found an answer, and my soul discovered something it already knew . . . I love studying the Bible–not just reading but digging deep. That’s a place I can go to cultivate joy.
Other places lift my heart too. Brand new mornings adorned with pink painted horizons is a joy-giver. Long morning walks while most of the world sleeps, candles lit, and worship music release the cords of sadness for me. Yet none of these restore my heart like God’s Word.
I don’t think God’s Word gives me joy just because I’m a Bible nerd. It’s not because I’m a writer or unique or holy. Take me out of the equation, because the Bible’s joy giving qualities reside in its supernatural wisdom and grace. You don’t need a certain personality to glean from this joy source. You just need a heart wanting to receive.
For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control . . . “Galatians 5:22 (NIV via Andy’s memory)
I’m convinced the Lord wants to give us joy my friends, but it’s not the kind of joy which comes from anything this world has to offer. It comes from a supernatural well, an eternal source. This is the Living Water Jesus promised the Samaritan Woman. This comes from Him, the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . .John 1:1
And God Himself climbed down from heaven, clothed in skin, and climbed upon a cross for us to have unending joy. Joy to the world, my sisters, the Lord has come. And though we suffer pain and loss here today, nothing can take away the hope and joy the celebration of the birth of Christ embodies.
Bible Reading Plan on Joy Printable
Are you with me? If you’re reading this and thinking my words are a bunch of platitudes, I can promise they’re not. I’ve been to the pit of angry, empty grief, and I’ve been numb with disappointment and regret. I’ve walked this journey of faith long enough to tell you my testimony, every word on this page, has been tested and proven. Joy is possible. I’ve personally chosen these scriptures for the month ahead, and I’m so excited for you to discover the joy they have to offer. You can download the printable here.
What the Bible Says About Joy
I testify to the joy of God in my life, but never simply take what you read on someone’s blog or hear in a moving sermon. Always compare it with scripture. Let the Word be the measuring stick, the proof. A biblical author who spoke a lot of joy was David.
King David was no stranger to heartache. Enemies chased him. Even worse, his own son tried to take his life. He knew betrayal and grief, however, he also knew the source to life-giving joy and strength. He wrote:
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand. I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad (joyful) and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure . . . . You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.Psalm 16: 8-11 NIV (addition mine)
Who did David always set before him? God. Why was he not shaken? Because he knew God had not forsaken him. He trusted the Lord. And that trust led him back time and time to the presence of the Lord. David claimed, ” . . . in your presence there is fullness of joy.”
The man God called “the man after my own heart” knew where to find joy. We aren’t David. It’s 2020, and it doesn’t seem like God works like He did in David’s day. But He does. Even more, we have the Holy Spirit. Strength and joy are in God’s dwelling place. Sometimes we lose our joy because we’re too busy to stop and BE with the Lord. I believe David stopped and worshiped.
Three Things to Do to Discover Joy
It’s a really busy time, but we too need to slow down. Some of us have lost our joy because we’re overwhelmed with busy schedules and worries. If you want to reclaim joy or find true, deep, everlasting joy for the first time try these three things:
- Spend time studying the scriptures from the Bite of Bread reading plan every day. Theses are short readings. There’s more suggestions of how to use the plan on the printable.
- Choose to trust the Lord. It may be impossible to choose joy, but trusting God’s goodness and faithfulness is always a choice. If you need more help in this department, read my article “When You Can’t Choose Joy.”
- Choose to be thankful. There is always something to be thankful for. Always. If you lean toward the deficits in your life rather than the good, check out the article and reading plan from last month, “The Reason Why Thankfulness is So Important.”
Wishing You Joy This Christmas
Dear friends, how I pray this Christmas will be one of revelation–new understanding and manifestation of Jesus in your life. And I pray joy may be how His Presence manifests in you. He is faithful. Simply love Him. Love the lamb of God born for us. He came. He conquered death. His Kingdom is here. Joy is possible. We just need to know where to find it. His name is Jesus. Immanuel (God with us.) The Word. Find Jesus, really find Jesus, and you will find joy.
Here’s our midweek Bite of Bread virtual gathering: