4/8/14

Practicing Joy

We juggle a lot as mothers.  We juggle cleaning, cooking, teaching, and organizing.  Some mothers work outside the home – adding a new dimension to the juggling.  (I have always had a great respect for working-mothers!) When do we have time for joy?  We talk about joy being something we feel, but it is not a feeling. It takes practice to have joy.  It takes work.

Out of the Grey’s song “Joy” describes how elusive joy can be.

Some say the face is unforgettable
I'm sure I've seen it many times
Ah, but you know me
I forget so easily

Joy seems to slip away as soon as we get a hold of it.  Joy is not something easily described.  We think back to times in our life when we think we had joy: college, single, high school, childhood.  Joy is not found in circumstances – nor is it found in anything in this world. If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, true joy cannot be found.  You can experience times of happiness, but a deep-seated joy can never be obtained.  True joy is found only in Christ.  Sadly, many Christians (including myself) seem to lack the joy that is supposed to follow being in Christ.

We can look at a few Psalms to find how to practice joy.

1. Practice trusting in God
Psalms 5:11 – But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful.
Psalm 37:5 –Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Trusting means to let go of independence and depend on someone else. I ask my children to trust me.  When my children fight and argue, they are not trusting me.  I tell them no to protect them.  I ask them to do chores to teach them.  I have them apologize to learn forgiveness.  When they say no to me, they do not trust me.  When we are being selfish and independent, we are not trusting God.  Worry, sin, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can all steal our joy. Trust God about the little things: dinner, a clean house, and the laundry. Trust God about the big things: sickness, loss, and fears. We practice joy when we trust God. 

2. Practicing the presence of God

Psalm 16:11 – You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is the fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 89:15 – Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.

Where do we find God’s presence?  In the things we know we should do: reading His Word and praying.  Read God’s Word daily.  I cannot emphasize how much joy can be found in the pages of Scripture! Get a daily reading plan.  A simple Google search will show you hundreds.  One reading plan I like is to read one chapter in the Old Testament, one chapter in Psalm/Proverbs, and one chapter in the New Testament.  When I finish with Psalm/Proverbs and the New Testament, I begin again.  I do not try to make-up any days that I miss.  I pick up where I left off.  Daily prayer is also a place to practice joy.  I have just completed seventy days of writing out my prayers.  You can see my post about that here.  I am anxious to keep this habit going with a small notebook!

 3. Practicing forgiveness and mercy
Psalm 32:2, 5 – O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me…For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

So many times that verse is taken out of context.  You can see from the previous verses, David is speaking about God’s forgiveness and mercy.  Sorrow for our sin (“weeping”) may endure for a night, but forgiveness and mercy (“joy”) comes in the morning.  Many times we lack joy because we harbor sin.  Some sins that steal our joy are bitterness, worry, anger, and fear. We can sing with the Psalmist, Psalm 106:1 - Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. When we seek forgiveness and mercy, we will find it!  God is ready to restore our joy as we confess our sins to Him. We also can practice this forgiveness and mercy as we forgive others.  When bitterness over something someone did wrong overtakes our hearts, joy can be found in forgiving that person.  Joy is practiced as we forgive those that wrong us – even if we have to forgive every day!

4. Practicing praising God

Psalm 43:4 – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.
Psalm 122:1 – I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord.

The psalms clearly teach that joy is lived out in praising God.  When we worship God, we are focusing on Who God is and what He has done.  We tell Him how faithful or how mighty He is.  We can sing or play music.  God is faithful, just, holy, righteous, true, lovely, all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving. He has rescued us, adopted us, loved us, and guided us. Begin to praise God and joy will take a front-row seat in your heart.

5. Practice sacrificing

Psalm 27:6 – And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Sacrificing is the way of life for mothers. We have sacrificed our bodies (emotionally and sometimes physically).  We have sacrificed our hearts. We have sacrificed careers.  We have sacrificed going to the store alone, or getting a good night’s sleep, or eating a quiet meal.  We can either become martyrs or we can become joyful servants.  Sacrificing is the way of life for Christians. We are told to sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
We do not always feel like sacrificing.  That is ok.  Remember that sacrificing leads to joy.  We may not feel joy at first. Who really finds joy in scraping off the last little bits of dinner from the plates the next morning?  Joy comes when we remember that we are living just how Christ has called us to live.  Our calling is one of sacrifice. 

 Joy is a confidence in the Person. When the focus is off of ourselves, we focus on Christ.  He is our source of joy through

Trusting Him

His presence

Confessing our sins

Worshipping Him

Sacrificing


If we practice those things, we are practicing joy.