On Sunday mornings in June, we’ve been defining what joy is and how it emerges in our lives. As we seek to be joy-filled followers of Jesus, we have to remember there’s an underlying opposition working against us that desires to see every ounce of joy removed from our lives so that we are living purely on feelings and emotions. Jesus reminds us of this opposition in John 10:10, but we know that He (Jesus) desires to see our joy full and complete (John 15:9-11), so how do we ensure our joy isn’t restricted, or even worse, depleted from our lives?
There’s not a simple 5 step process to joy-loss prevention, but here are a few thoughts that have played out to be true in my life.
You have to truly believe there’s opposition working against you.
For the longest time, I just assumed that whatever negative or difficult circumstances happened to me was the result of a poor choice, lack of sleep, etc. Now, while I’m not convinced that every bad thing that happens in my life is an attack of Satan and evil, I have grown increasingly aware to how he (Satan) does attempt to steal my joy. The Bible is clear that we are in a spiritual war, but it’s not against people and circumstances; instead, our enemy is Satan (Ephesians 6:12). At the same time, we know that Jesus has been, is and always will be victorious. Your job isn’t to fight the battle; you just need to seek Jesus and ask Him for the strength to let Him do the fighting for you.
Figure out how your joy is most commonly attacked.
This is hard to realize because without some real soul searching we aren’t able to discover this on our own. I believe this is something that we must ask God to reveal to us. Here are some questions that led me to discover my area of vulnerability…
- What causes me stress?
- When do I not act like myself?
- What leads me to disconnect and isolate myself from others?
- What keeps me up at night?
- What do I wish was different but I can’t do anything about it at this moment?
Once you have identified your “default vulnerability”, what conditions cause it, and the symptoms of it’s pending arrival, you should consider these two things…
- Most importantly, begin to seek Jesus more and more knowing that you need Him to daily reset your perspective. Consider Colossians 3:1-3.
- Share your “default vulnerability of joy restriction” with a few other important people in your life AND give them permission to lean into your life when they see your joy being restricted.
For me, the very areas of my life that robbed my joy were also the very circumstances God wanted to use to transform my joy. In other words, if I could learn to have joy in the seasons of life where I would typically withdraw and go into an emotional pit of gloom and doom, then I could be well on my way to experiencing the joy Jesus commonly spoke of and that “pure joy” we read about in James 1:2-4.
Jesus didn’t die and resurrect for your joy to be restricted. Let Him lift you above your circumstances as you come to realize that His joy is just simply better than even the most ideal circumstances you can muster up in your own strength!