JOLT! - A Joy Worth Thinking About
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 CSB
When my Nespresso machine arrived in the mail, I positioned it on the floor so I could look at the box. The package was not enticing at all; simple, brown with black lettering. As I eyeballed it, my mind wandered to the kitchen where this small, black and white machine would sit. I pondered the position of it, easy to access, near the sink. I considered the placement in relation to my dual coffee pot/single cup machine. I imagined the quick access to pods, water, mugs and raw sugar, which would create a magnificent cup of rich, dark coffee. I really took time to meditate on this special gift from my husband and the joy it would soon bring me.
Just as I ruminate on this simple machine, I realize I should take at least this much time, or more, to ponder on the joy I receive from my Savior, Jesus Christ. This peace and joy is available to us through our relationship with Him and can never be compared to a simple coffee machine. His joy that is free for us is so unimaginable we should make it a goal to reflect on it day and night.
In Scripture, we are asked to dwell on the things of God that are excellent; things that are pure, just, lovely, commendable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8 CSB). These are things He deems worthy of our time. These are the items our Father considers valuable, and because of this, we should be thinking about them on a daily basis.
Joy is another of these remarkable gifts Christ gives to us and it is worth prayerfully reflecting on, as well. Often, though, in our everyday circumstances, what we choose to deliberate on the most is what brings us pain and hurt. Our difficulties often stand out in our thoughts so much more than the joy we can experience. We can have joy through these trials if we spend time focusing on Christ's free gift of joy to us.
Our lives can be so challenging. Cancer may be affecting a family member or yourself. Your children, if young, may be misbehaving or struggling at school. If they are grown, they might be far from home and don’t call often. You may have just lost your husband in a car accident or a parent to Leukemia. There may be trouble in your marriage, or an addiction that is overpowering you. Whatever the battle might be, your Deliverer stands ready to help and bring you joy in the midst of it. Our eyes can tend to focus on these troubles because the enemy places this pain directly in our path. The enemy of our souls wants us to hide from the joy of Christ by keeping our eyes from the joy that is available to us every day. I’m not recommending you and I ignore everyday hardships and pretend they don’t exist. Rather, I suggest we focus on the joy that is brought to us by a Savior who takes away pain. That will be what sustains us through each trial. Focusing on His joy is how we can gain perspective in our pain. How on earth will we ever know grace, joy, comfort, forgiveness, patience, and courage if we never experience pain? We can’t numb out to reality, but we can seek a God who plans or allows everything that comes our way and knows the outcome. After all, everything God makes is good, He does not make evil or bring evil and hurt into our lives. He may allow circumstances to occur, as part of His perfect plan, but it is only because He can see the end and we cannot.
Jesus loves to bring us joy. He loves to see us celebrating when our accomplishments match His plan and we are giving Him the praise He deserves for a plan well played out. And, at the same time, He desires to see us live in full joy during the episodes of life when we come up hard against life’s painful realities. It can feel audacious, ridiculous even, to grip firmly onto our right to joy when we are living under emotional or physical struggle. Joy is the light in this world. His light in this world. Joy in Christ, conceived in faith, is where we get our hope. This is where Jesus shows us we can oppose death and darkness and have hope, not despair. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 18:27). Our Savior hungers to give us beauty from our ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He watches over us, remaining ever present as we struggle in order for us to feel His presence and bathe in His joy.
I once read that thinking on something can focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Could it be if we were to keep our eyes focused on the joy we can receive from Jesus, we might be able to endure the struggles of life we know will come? The joy of our God is for us all, it is free and available for the taking.
If you stop and consider your circumstances today, is it worth taking time to reflect on the joy surrounding you from a God Who is in control of everything?
A Prayer for the Day
Lord, I pray that I will be able to truly look around at Your glory and focus all my attention on the joy-filled life You have made available to me. Your Word tells me to look on lovely and commendable things, those gifts You give for my joy. Help me to see those things today and to center my attention on You rather than anything the enemy wants me to see. I praise You for Your infinite love and the joy You desire for me to experience. Amen.
What steps can you take today to stay focused on the joy God has available for you during difficult situations?
Eldregde, S. (2018). Defiant Joy. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.