Last week I wrote about anger but today I want to follow that up with an emotion on the opposite end of the spectrum. Sometimes we get inundated with all of the problems in the world and in our lives so today I was feeling the need to sit in a place of joy. God indeed did give us this spectrum of emotions in which to experience life. It is what makes life rich and vibrant. One of the biggest complaints from friends who are on an anti-depressant is that they flatten out the emotions which means helpfully, you don’t feel the lows so deeply but unfortunately you don’t experience the highs that life can offer as well. Joy is one of those emotions that can sustain us for a long time when our spirit rises and our heart feels lighter and happier.
I invite you to think about the past week and remember any moments of joy you experienced. Where were you? Who were you with? What triggered the smile, the laugh, the happiness within? Last week I had the privilege of watching our children’s choirs and bell ringers do a concert at Arbor Acres for the senior adults living there. What a beautiful moment to listen to our kids sing and watch the expressions of pure delight by the onlookers. I felt joy watching the two generations sharing with one another.
And then there was that moment Sunday night when the Tarheels basketball team pulled out a close victory over Kentucky and the jubilation of my basketball team going to the Final Four. I was still smiling the next morning.
And of course the moment when our staff went on a field trip to see Beauty and the Beast. I smiled for 2 hours (except when I was wiping away a tear or two at the end! Oh yea, and that moment of horror when I accidentally walked into the men’s bathroom – Lord have mercy!) as only Disney can pull off with their magical movie story telling.
But I also experienced joy when someone asked me for a copy of my sermon from last Sunday, knowing for them, there was some Word that spoke to their heart and I was thankful God used me as the vessel to communicate. Or the conversation I had with someone struggling with a family situation realizing that I could be of some kind of help as they figured out their next steps. I could go on because thankfully there have been numerous moments of joy now that I sit down and reflect. How about you? Did it surprise you how many you could think of? So often, all we remember and dwell on are the bad things, the hurtful words spoken, the negative gestures directed at us or those people/things we care about. Why do we do that to ourselves?
So in case you need a little pick me up to get you through this rainy day, reflect on this passage from Philippians. With trust in God during the difficult times, and a concerted effort to find and remember the joy that surrounds you or might even go unnoticed, you will discover one of the secrets to contentment.
4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7 (CEB)
And if you are struggling right now to see the joy in your life, then here is my prayer for you until you can pray it for yourself.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13 (CEB)