Joy is a strange thing isn’t it? One day we can be exhilarated, satisfied in Christ and content in where we are placed. The next day, the color can seep out of life, and it is back to grey again, the world pulling our attention, and whispering loudly of its counterfeit joy. We give in to its siren call again, until we have been lulled into complacent and inebriated state. We are left wondering what happened. How could our satisfaction change so rapidly one day to the next? And how can we keep our joy in God, where it belongs?
John Piper defines joy as: a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think we obtain joy in Christ by remaining passive. The enemy of our souls would like nothing better than to steal it away as fast as he can (John 10:10). So if we are not watching, we will be tempted to find our joy in other things, which will not last, such as entertainment, approval, self-improvement, wealth, and so on. It’s not that watching a movie is wrong, or using social media, or saving money, it’s the question of, am I finding my joy in those things, or am I finding it in Christ?
Here are some thoughts I have on how to fight for our joy in Christ. These may seem obvious but it’s amazing how we can be so quickly tempted away from them, and so this is preaching to myself, as much as anyone.
- Stay in the Word. We must make this a priority every day, otherwise other things will steal away our time very quickly. I keep my phone in another room overnight and have a rule that I do my devotions before checking social media. I actually have a block on my phone that will stop me if I try and check it. Even if it is only a few minutes of Bible reading before work, it helps me to have the right mindset before I start my day, so that I am equipped to fight the lies of my flesh/the devil using the Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). I find that if I am too tired to read, listening to an AudioBible can helpful.
- Pray. This has been a struggle for me lately, but it’s one I know I need to increase. Prayer is powerful, and is one of our biggest weapons to fight for our joy. We can only know God if we spend time with Him, and how can He share His heart with us if we don’t take time to listen? Also, His kingdom will only come in our lives and in the lives of others if we pray.
- Stay in community. I will admit that I never really feel like going to prayer meeting, or to Bible study, but I am always so glad when I go, because God uses the Body of Christ to fan into flame once more our passion for Him. A coal by itself will burn out quickly, but put with others can start a raging fire.
- Worship. This might look like sitting down at the piano, and just playing what notes or songs comes to mind. It might look like singing in the car, or playing music in the house. It might look like simply declaring who the Lord is, and speaking aloud the promises of God from Scripture. True worship will get our minds off of ourselves, and on to our Creator. It will turn our focus from our issues and on to the glory of God where it belongs, and where true joy is found. I have been really encouraged lately by the music of Shane and Shane, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and CityAlight.
Don’t be content to stay where you are. Fight for your joy daily. Use the weapons that God has given you to fight against the lies that threaten to beat you down.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”
The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. ‘If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,’ Jesus said, ‘he will find his true self.