Joy is a deep inner stability from the Lord, gained in his presence.
My wife Michelle told me the story of a conversation she had the other day with one of the women she works with. The woman has resettled here in Lancaster, along with her husband and two kids. They fled the African country of Eritrea, spending years in a refugee camp. This woman is known to the other employees as a steady joyful woman. This week as she and Michelle were talking, she shared a bit about the years her husband was forced to be a soldier, which led them to flee Eritrea. She talked about how some of her family is still in Eritrea and some family is in refugee camps waiting to be resettled. She shared about the heartache that brings.
She ended the conversation with Michelle by saying, “And so I pray each day. God is caring for me and I pray for their care. I wish for my entire family to be with me here, but I am grateful. We are here and so my children are safe. I so I feel two things: a strong hope for the rest of my family to be here with me, and gratefulness that we can be here.”
That’s what joy is sometimes. Both the longing and the struggle are present with the joy and contentedness. But it takes intentional connection to the Spirit, it takes effort to cultivate that kind of contented joy. The work is worth it. God says it is important, and it is for our good.
Something very practical we can do is spend time in God’s presence. It might be just learning to rest in his presence, which can be frustrating, especially because of the fast-paced society we live in, or if you yourself are a person who loves to be on the go.
I recently listened to a podcast in which a person remarked that in our contemporary world, so often when we wake up each day, the first thing we do is open our devices or turn on the TV. Instead, he recommended that we should start the day with quietness, in the presence of God. That takes practice, working on being aware of the truth of God’s love for you, that you carry his Spirit with you.
We could start each day by thanking God. Write down five things you are thankful for in a journal. Thankfulness, which is the practice of counting your blessings, is a very helpful way to grow joy in your life. Even if it is just that you are thankful for coffee, for the new day, for breath.