grandfather grandson joyfulBy: Chaplain & Patient Advocate Chip Sekulich

We don’t have to look far to find unhappy people. This is not what Jesus wanted for His children. He came that we might experience real joy and that our “joy might be full” (abundant and overflowing). Yet, many of God’s people are still incredibly miserable because they think being “happy” and being “joyful” are the same thing.

They are not. Happiness is circumstantial while joy is a condition of the heart.

God values real joy over mere happiness. This is because the source of happiness and joy are not the same. Happiness almost always comes from our ever-changing emotions in reaction to happenings affecting us positively. On the other hand, the “Joy of the Lord” comes from an unchanging God and His presence and work deep within us. Because of this difference, His joy can be fully experienced without depending upon the happenings of our daily lives.

The great writer, Warren Wiersbe speaks about “Thieves of Joy”. These are those things that threaten to undermine our joy and peace of mind. Thieves of joy could include people (problem people & people problems), predicaments and possessions. Pause for a moment here. Are any of these ‘thieves’ trying to steal your joy today? Or might you be the ‘thief’ stealing someone else’s joy?

In Matthew 14, the difference between the Apostle Peter walking on the water to Jesus and sinking under the water was his focus. He walked above the waves when he accepted Jesus’ invitation and kept his eyes on Him knowing He was the source of this miracle. When Peter’s attention turned to the storm (circumstances) around him, he began to sink. Does that sound familiar? We quickly step out in faith boldly only to be hit by a ‘storm’.

God never asks us to ignore or be oblivious to trouble, disappointment, pain, and heartache. But He does ask us to trust that He is bigger than all the things threatening to take us under. He asks us to keep our eyes focused on Him, trust Him, react with confidence, and rejoice in Him despite our circumstances.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” -Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Have you ever read the small letter to the Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible? Writing from a prison cell, chained like an animal, living in barbaric conditions, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write this masterpiece of Joy. How did he rise above his circumstances to do this? He focused on the Joy of the Lord’s presence working in his life. He drew upon God’s strength and rejoiced in God’s goodness despite where he was, what he faced or what may or may not happen to him.

Determine right now, with God’s help, to trust Him (His provision, His power, His presence, AND His timing). Keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus, trust and obey Him and rejoice in Him regardless of the circumstances or how you may feel.

Believe that with God’s help and strength, no thief will steal your joy!