Stop Waiting on Joy
Ever noticed how joy can feel elusive? We want it… but often feel that it is just beyond our grasp because of life circumstances.
I’ll have joy, we tell ourselves, when the breakthrough finally comes, when my prayers are answered the way I want, when I’m finally done with this job, once my child is through with this phase, once my loved one apologizes.
Life will be so much better and joy so much more easily attained once I finish school, once I meet someone, once I get married, once I have a child, once my child grows up a little, once I get this extra weight off, once I don’t have to be around “so-and-so” anymore, once I’m debt-free, once I retire…
But have you ever had the experience of actually getting your heart’s desire?
You get the long-awaited breakthrough. Your prayer is finally answered, just as you had hoped. You finally move on to another job. Your child finally gets over that phase. You finish the degree. You marry. You pay off the debt. Or you finally escape “so-and-so.”
There’s a rush of happiness that gives you such a high. Life is good.
But sooner than you would have predicted, you descend from the high. Life settles back down, and the excitement subsides. You start to notice new problems. And before you know it, joy seems to be eluding you once more.
So you jump back on the merry-go-round and tell yourself that you’ll have joy one day, once x, y, or z happens.
Around and around you go.
And all the while, the pages of Scripture are whispering that there is a better way. That the joy we desire does exist – it just springs from a different source than we thought.
“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
In your presence is the fullness of joy. Not in easy circumstances, not in the absence of pain, not in the absence of conflict. This one sentence derails our every attempt to find joy in another person, in new scenery, or in changed circumstances. It will never be found in those things.
Joy is found in one place alone: His presence.
Joy is not something that “happens to” us. And it’s not something we have to wait on.
It’s a reality we step into. And we can step into it now.
We do this by learning to pursue his presence as the greatest treasure of our lives. And as we go deeper into that glorious Presence, we taste joy that surpasses our greatest expectation. Scripture calls it “unspeakable joy” (I Peter 1:8). True joy – the kind that originates in God himself. The kind that infuses the heart with Heaven. It’s a spark that can’t be snuffed out, no matter how hard or painful the seasons we experience in life.
Once we learn to tap into his endless well of joy, two things are vital to walking in that joy on a daily basis:
First is worship. I cannot overstate what a huge factor this has been in my journey with God. I’m talking about one-on-one time with God – yes, in the Scriptures, but also listening to worship music that connects me with the heart of God. Songs that align my heart and my thinking with his. I don’t simply mean “Christian music” that’s often heard on the radio. I actually find a lot of that music depressing and very circumstance-oriented – coming from a place of defeat. I mean true worship that affirms the bigness, tender mercy, wild love, and insane goodness of God.*
Individual worship is a must if we are to walk in joy, and so is communal worship. We were created to be in community with others, especially other believers. There is something that happens when believers come together to exalt his name that cannot be captured with words. It’s encouraging, healing, and transformational. Worship is a powerful key to unlocking joy because it sets things back in their proper order and renews our perspective. It magnifies God and causes circumstances to shrink – they can no longer control our emotions and attitudes because they come under the Lordship of Jesus.
Second is thankfulness. A posture of thankfulness is a conduit for Heaven’s joy. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of all that God has done for us. This is especially true if we’re walking through long-term hardship. The weight of ongoing pain can cause us to focus on what’s hard about our lives rather than being thankful for our rich blessings.
Despite the things we’re still waiting on, God has been good to us. Let us never stop thanking him for it – for the countless ways he has provided over the years, for the family he’s given us, for the dear friendships in our lives, for his goodness that’s so evident in the change of seasons, for a roof over our heads, and for two legs to stand on. Let’s get over our sense of entitlement and realize that every hair on our head – the very breath in our lungs- is a gracious gift from God. And don’t forget the Cross! We could spend the rest of our lives thanking him, and we still wouldn’t have enough time. He loves us fiercely – loved us into existence, in fact. Thankfulness is our only reasonable response when we get a glimpse of ALL that he is and ALL he has done on our behalf. And just in case you’ve forgotten, the story ends very well. Read the book of Revelation. If we’re his, we win! A very real ‘happily ever after’ awaits us. Beloved, there is MUCH to thank him for.
So let’s stop waiting on joy. What are we waiting for anyway? Every season of life will give us reasons not to be joyful. And if we stay on the merry-go-round, we’ll find ourselves on our deathbeds one day, still waiting on joy to “happen.”
And what a waste that would be.
Our Source of joy is fully accessible to us NOW. No need to wait until next year, next month, or even until tomorrow. Every single day there is beauty (even on Mondays). Every single day he is near. Every single day he is moving on our behalf. His presence beckons us at this very moment.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
*Some examples of the kind of worship music I’m talking about: Kim Walker Smith, Bethel Worship, Jake Hamilton, Rick Pino, Jason Upton, Hillsong, and many others. These are a great place to start if you’re looking for stuff that will encourage your heart and renew your perspective.