“Stop saying that so rudely every time I interrupt you!” said one of my children, who shall remain nameless.
It was quite a mouthful, and so indicative of the way so many of us converse these days. Indignation, disgust, refusing to listen to another’s viewpoint or opinion, and outrage seem to be cornerstones of today’s societal interactions. Irritation is the mood du jour. I’m not sure when we lost the art of respectful discourse and discussion, but my guess is it occurred around the same time we decided being heard was more important than listening.
Few things can block our joy faster than the heated emotions listed above, and yet so many of us seem to live almost continuously in this heightened state of agitation.
Pastor David Payne said in last Sunday’s sermon that joy is a choice. So how do we go about making that choice for ourselves?
As in all things, I believe it starts with prayer.
God wishes for us to experience the joy of our salvation, and the joy of Christian living. If we want joy, we must first ask for it, for it is one of those God-given good and perfect gifts James speaks about in this verse. And we know, according to Mark 11:24, that if we ask for something in accordance with God’s will, and believe in His ability to grant it and our ability to receive it, God will honor that request.
Our very desire to seek God is a gift from Him, and so is our desire to seek joy. Left to our own devices, we would wander around in pursuit of selfish ends. Our natural selves find pleasure in the wrong as well as the right; in the unholy as well as the holy; in the irritation and frustration as well as the peace. We’re broken. To experience true, abundant, abiding joy, we must turn to the creator of joy itself, and ask Him for a great big dose of it.
Even David found the need to pray for joy, as found in Psalm 51:
After asking for joy, we must continuously seek it and practice it. Feeling agitated? Try meditative breathing. Getting itchy keyboard fingers every time you read that one friend’s political posts? Take a break from social media. Can’t say something nice? Say nothing at all. Go for a nature walk. Sit and watch the butterflies. Read the Bible. Listen to a Christian podcast. Turn on worship music in your house and car.
The joy of the Lord is always all around us! We just need to stop our striving long enough to see it, feel it, and appreciate it.
I think of joy like glitter. You can’t toss a handful of glitter in the air and not get it on others around you. Throw some joy into the air and watch what happens. Choose to be a joy-spreader.