Joy Transcends our Other Emotions

oh_happy_dayContinued from here.

Zach Williams’ new song, Old Church Choir, has a great line about being joyful when you face problems in your life:

When the valleys that I wander turn to mountains that I can’t climb, You are with me, never leave me. There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy.”

The key to our joy is God’s presence in our lives. Just as God is love, He is also joy. Because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you have 24/7 access to joy no matter what is going on in your life.

That’s not to say that you will always be happy. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is a fruit of the Spirit. As long as God is with you (which is always), you have access to joy, even when your circumstances are difficult and even when your heart breaks.

While we cannot experience happiness and sadness at the same time (beyond the tension of bittersweet), we can experience joy at the same time as sadness or even grief. That was my experience while my son was in the hospital for his back surgery. As I stated in this blog entry, that experience was very stormy, but it was never dark. That’s the best way I know how to describe the experience of joy transcending pain and other difficult circumstances.

That season of my son recovering from major back surgery was one of the most challenging times of my life. Nevertheless, I experienced joy transcending my physical and emotional exhaustion, and that kept me going. It gave me strength when I would have otherwise felt weak. I was surprisingly grateful throughout a time that I could have been very negative (and probably would have been if this had happened a few years earlier).

The best way I have found to tap into the joy of the LORD while dealing with challenging circumstances is to praise and worship Him. This takes your focus off yourself & your problems and, instead, directs your focus onto God, the source of our joy. Rocking out to Zach Williams’ Old Church Choir is a good way to get started.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running through musical notes under the words, “Oh Happy Day.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

car_dogOne of my favorite passages of scripture comes from the Book of Nehemiah:

This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ~ Neh. 8:10

I used to transpose the words joy and strength, believing that the strength of the Lord is our joy, but that’s not what the verse says. It says that “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” When we are joyful, the joy actually strengthens us!

This topic has been on my mind since I heard Zach Williams’ new song, Old Church Choir. Check out the video here and try not to start dancing around the room while you listen to it! I look like a cross between all three women in the video whenever I hear that song. I’m sure several people have been quite amused at me dancing around in my car while waiting for the light to turn green. Thankfully, only God sees me dancing around my bedroom to this song!

Look at the faces of the people in the video and see the strength. Instead of having a sour face while driving the carpool, typing on a computer at work, or doing the dishes, those women are overflowing with joy. There’s no way to hide their light under a bushel!

I spent too many years of my life as a sourpuss. I was always either complaining or worrying about something, for reasons I mostly don’t even remember now. How differently might I have faced my life challenges if I had found my strength in the joy of the LORD! I believe this is why Paul tells us to rejoice always. When I am joyful, my thoughts are on God rather than on my problems, and God’s joy strengthens me.

You might be wondering how you can possible “rejoice always” when you are dealing with big problems. I’ll discuss that topic in my next blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace driving a car with her dog by her side. Courtesy Bitmoji.]