“When you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. When you’re happy and you know it stomp your feet. When you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it when you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”
The kids loved those times of singing, clapping and stomping, but then they grew up and realized that happiness isn’t that simple. In fact, when I did a small survey of women to see if they were truly happy, most answered a resounding NO! Hmmm. I wondered about that.
We all know happiness is different than joy, but how? We’re happy when things are going smoothing in our lives and in the lives of those we love. We’re happy when we get what we want. Joy is different. It’s a deep abiding sense that God has things under control even if our world is falling apart. That doesn’t mean you won’t react when trials occur. You will and you should. God gave us feelings for a reason. But happiness depends on my circumstances (which are unpredictable at best) where joy depends on my trusting God to care for my life.
I don’t fear or become anxious when there’s nothing wrong circumstantially. But I also don’t have to fear when my world is falling apart. I can still have joy if I’m willing to trust God with my difficult circumstances realizing that he has a plan and purpose in the trials of life. So how can we experience this joy daily? Here are a few ideas:
Remember what’s important
In Phillipians 3:7 it says “Those things that were important to me I now think they are worth nothing because of Christ.”(NCV) Paul saw the bigger picture and the reality of his faith. He knew that our light and momentary troubles were achieving for us a glory that far outweighs anything this world can throw at us. But that’s the trap. The culture tells us to focus on ourselves. It tells us that our happiness is all that matters. It tells us that we have to look a certain way, wear a certain size, have certain things and do certain things in order to reach the American Dream. Once we do all these things we’re promised happiness. But as many have seen, that happiness is only an illusion. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t satisfy. It’s bankrupt. Our souls still feel empty.
Learn to be Still
Everyday we have a million things on our list that need to get done. We hit the ground running and usually don’t stop till we put the kids to bed, or we come home from that late night meeting. By then we’re so exhausted that we have little time or energy to experience the connection we were created for. Connection with God. If we want to experience God we have to make time to be still and dwell in his presence. That is where we fill our joy tank. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11. Busyness is the trap to intimacy with God or anyone else in our lives. God’s word says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Accept what you can’t change
Most of us spend a lot of time ruminating about things in the past, regrets we have, things we wished we had done better. We want to be able to hit the rewind button in our lives and get a second chance at whatever mess is upsetting us. But that isn’t possible in most cases. What can we do? The next right thing. We can be responsive to how God is leading us personally in whatever situation we are facing, trusting him with the outcomes. Scripture says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do.” Isaiah 43:18-19a (NCV)
Focus on the Future
The apostle Paul said: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
That means leave the past in the past. Keep moving forward. See your future through the lens of faith. Trust God with the bigger picture. Remain committed to your passions.
Whatever happens we can be joyful is we stay present in the moment and trust God to work things out. This take an act of our will, it doesn’t just happen magically. We have to be intentional to set our minds on the things we know to be true. Commit your will today, believe in his promises, pray, and allow the indwelling Spirit to bring you jo