Hey! who stole my joy?
As a Christian, I have been taught that I should be happy. The truth is that often I am not. So why is this and what can I do to stop the thieves stealing my joy?
Ten reasons we are not more joyful
1. When we sin, this robs us of joy.
There is a pleasure in sinning for a season 1(Hebrews 11:25) 25 choosing rather
2. We find the evil in the world all around us genuinely distressing.
God commends His people when they are distressed by the evil in the world because God is also distressed by these things. In this way, we have fellowship with Him 5(Psalm 119:158) 158 I look at the faithless with loathing, because they don’t observe your word.. How grievous it is to hear the wonderful name of Jesus being blasphemed and used as a curse. This is one example where joy is an inappropriate response.
3. The life changing work of God is not yet complete in us
This is a life-long work of God upon our lives that slowly changes us (sanctification) and brings us more and more into alignment with Him 6(1 Thessalonians 5:23) 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.. As we cooperate with God in this so we are changed. After a period of time this can bring us into a better place of both peace and joy.
4. Our thinking can be wrong
The more we focus our thinking on what God says the more our thoughts are in harmony with a joyous life. Worldly thinking does not bring joy rather it brings dissatisfaction and trouble to us. The more conformed we are to God and His ways the better our lives will go in terms of being joyful 7(Romans 12:2) 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God..
5. Too much focus on ourselves
We are inclined to be self-centred and inward-looking in ways that are unhelpful to us. Pursuing joy for its own sake can be an expression of this. The more we chase after joy the faster it runs away from us. The more we seek God and the good of others the more joy comes to us. Joy is attracted to righteousness but repelled by wrongdoing 8(1 Timothy 6:9) 9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation, a snare, and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction.. We need to be more outward-looking.
6. Wrong foundations
Joy needs to be built upon the right foundations. There are two great foundations that are necessary for a joyful life these are righteousness and peace. God’s kingdom is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit 9(Romans 14:17) 17 for God’s Kingdom is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.. Pursuing what is right and peaceful brings joy.
Illness can have a big impact on how we feel. Through no fault of our own, we can feel really bad because physically our bodies are unwell or out of balance. The temptation at this point is to think we have really messed up with God because we don’t feel joyous. It is hard to have a balanced view of ourselves in this situation. Where possible we need to live in a healthy way but not beat ourselves up when we experience illness.
8. Bad things happen
We live in a fallen world and a broken creation 10(Job 14:1) 1 “Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.. This means that we experience the full range of issues that go with this. This can include bereavement, tragedy, trauma, pain, and rejection. When these things happen, we feel the pain no less than other people and also question why it is happening. These things are an affront to life and right thinking. We will not feel happy when facing these issues. At times it is OK to feel sad and heartbroken.
9. Broken relationships
Isolation from others is not good for us 11(Genesis 2:18) 18 Yahweh God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him. Ongoing conflict with people can be very distressing and damaging. Some of us find this more challenging than others. We must never be tempted to give up on connecting with others. This will be different in its outworking depending on who we are. Maintaining a healthy relationship with others helps us to be happy.
When we spend our days busy doing nothing we become increasingly unhappy 12(Ephesians 5:16) 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.. The most joyous people are people with a clear purpose in life. These spend their time pursuing goals that are real and worthwhile to them. At times we all need to have some rest periods. There is great value in recreation and doing little as part of the cycle of our lives. Problems can occur if we get stuck overmuch in unfocused recreation and rest. Healthy purpose and activity in our lives bring joy.
Wherever we feel we are at on the issue of joy we need to have hope for the future. God’s plan for us is an eternity of perfect joy. This time of trouble where we struggle with finding joy is only for a short time. An eternity of joy awaits us and we need to keep this season where God is preparing us in its proper perspective 13(Romans 8:18) 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us..
- Can you think of other things that make us sad?
- How have you found joy in your life?
- What is the most helpful thing you can do to comfort the sorrowful?