“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew 2:10 NIV
I love Matthew’s account of the Magi (please note they were not at the stable), but I’ve always found joy rather elusive.
It plays hide and seek with me. Ever feel that way?
Could it be that joy was right there and I hadn’t recognized it?
Here’s what I did. Maybe it will help you find joy too.
1. Ask God for direction.
I had a conversation with God about joy and why it’s such a struggle for me. Even my name taunts me. The name Gayle means joy of the father.
And then came my Aha! moment.
My moments of joy occur when I feel most connected to my Heavenly Father or when I’m doing something aligned with my purpose or my unique design.
As God revealed my joy moments, He showed me that my points of connection with Him were also my moments of joy. My awareness of His love and grace brought joy to me—in spite of this week’s brand of chaos.
2. Identify your joy moments.
Ask the Holy Spirit to bring your joyful moments to mind. When I prayed, God showed me my list. Yours may differ greatly.
Things which bring me joy (no set order):
- Good food
- Time with friends and family
- My dog
- The arts
- Setting a challenging goal and hitting it
- Any God moment
And I’m not talking happiness here. There’s a depth that distinguishes joy from happiness. In the Greek, joy (chara) is tied closely to grace (charis). Unmerited favor. Perhaps that’s why joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
3. Make room for joy.
I make room for joy by making room for connection and it’s this God-connection that allows me to have joy in tough circumstances.
In Scripture, joy has a tie to hardship, and I don’t think that’s coincidental. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul says “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
God gives us joy in the midst of circumstances that would knock happiness on its rear. When the stresses stack up like a Jenga tower, joy with its partners of grace and peace carry us.
So, how do we make room?
I’m test-driving this in December in preparation for the new year. I broke the schedule down daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. This is a work-in-progress, so bear with me, but here’s what I have so far.
Daily: Catch a sunrise or sunset.
Track the phases of the moon.
Plan meals I really enjoy.
Create playlists with music I love.
Weekly: Get outside for a local hike.
Have a date night.
Read good books or watch a movie.
Monthly: Schedule family time.
Make a coffee date with a friend.
Get away for a weekend with my husband.
Yearly: Plan a challenging hike in one of the national parks.
My biggest surprise? How many of these could fit into the normal course of a day. Joy didn’t have to be an event.
Joy peeks out from its hiding place in the countless everyday moments because God waits there too, wanting to connect.
Will you make room for joy? Will you make room for Him?
1. Follow the steps above as a family.
Did anything surprise you?
What did you learn about your kids from their responses?
What have you been longing to do? Schedule it. Don’t wait.
2. Reach out to extended family, neighbors, or friends. How can you bring them joy?
3. How about a total stranger? How can you share the joy of the season?
Disclaimer: This is not a cure for clinical depression. Depression should be treated by a professional.
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