You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11(NIV)
How can you experience joy in your Christian life when bad things keep happening to you? Is it possible to live in joy with all that is happening around us? Can Christians live joyfully every single day of their lives?
These are some of the questions that most of us struggle with. While joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, most Christians don’t seem to live in it. Though we long for joy, it is something that we struggle to have.
We can respond to challenges in life with inner satisfaction. But that’s only possible if we choose to walk in the joy of God. Though we are encouraged to act according to our feelings, our joy should remain in the midst of suffering.
Why do most of us struggle to experience lasting joy? It is because we confuse joy with happiness. Joy and happiness are not the same.
What is Joy?
Joy is an attitude of the heart. It is sheer gladness that comes as a result of our wellbeing, success, and beautiful experiences. You don’t need to have a smile on your face to prove that you are joyful.
As Christians, our joy is found in Christ and not circumstances. The kind of joy that the world offers is not the same as God’s joy. Like Habakkuk, we need to have joy in the God of our salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18)
So how do we experience lasting joy? Here are eleven ways to do that:
If joy is a fruit of the Spirit, then why is it that our joy is usually short-lived?
Well, the reason most of us feel that way is because we have never associated joy with diligence. For you to experience joy in your Christian life, you need to be committed to your relationship with Him. It is only in him that we find joy in its purest form.
Daniel remained committed to his relationship with God in the face of death. He continued with his prayer routine despite knowing there were consequences. The decree was not going to stop him from worshipping the one true God.
David was not a perfect man, but that did not stop him from trusting God. He went through a lot of challenges since childhood. David’s family didn’t value him, Saul tried to kill him, his own son rebelled against him, and the list goes on. But here is the thing, David praised God in good and bad times, meaning that he was a joyful person.
These two men were committed to God, and that is why they remained joyful despite what they faced. We can also be joyful despite what is happening around us. But for that to happen, we need to commit to our relationship with God.
Okay, let’s be honest, being thankful in the middle of the storm is not easy. Finding the right words and focusing on the good doesn’t come easy. But, the word of God tells us to be thankful, not anxious.
See, to experience joy in your life, you need to keep choosing joy and not fear or sadness. But it’s not easy because we live in a world where we are encouraged to embrace our feelings. We are spiritual beings, and that means we should not allow emotions to control us. We need to be led by the Spirit.
Thank God for his goodness. Thank him for the great things he is doing or is yet to do in your life. Thanksgiving will shift your focus from ‘self’ to God. When your mind is focused on God and not yourself, you will experience joy.
Faith and Belief
Believing that God’s promises will come true in your life will bring contentment in your heart. God promised Abraham many descendants. When God told him to sacrifice his only son, he obeyed. Abraham believed God because he knew that God is faithful. He believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead.
We need to trust in God, just like Abraham. But how do we do that? We should take our eyes off ourselves and focus on Jesus. We need to focus on his faithfulness. When we do that, God fills our hearts with the joy that cannot be taken away from us.
David knew the secret to remaining joyful was praising God. He praised God in good and bad times. David sang praises to God for the things he had done and those he was going to do. (Psalm 9)
Many bad things are happening in the world right now. It is easier to complain and become depressed than to walk in joy. We need to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. He is keen on robbing the joy of the Lord from the children of God.
Praise is a great weapon that will destroy the schemes of the enemy faster than any other weapon. It will also help you to experience joy in your Christian life. To praise God means to magnify him above all else. It means focusing on how good God is and not the bad things that are happening around us.
The greatest commandment in the Christian faith is love. We need to love God, others, and ourselves. It is only in doing so that we are able to live in joy. But how do we do that? (John 15:12)
- Listening to God
If you love someone, you listen to them. The truth is you cannot live a fulfilling Christian life and experience joy if you don’t listen to God.
He is our shepherd, we need to follow his leading. But the only way to do that is by listening to his voice. We also need to listen to others because, at times, God speaks through people.
It is one thing to listen to God. It is another to obey him. You need to do what God is telling you, even when it doesn’t make sense. Trust the process and walk in his ways, and God will fill your heart with joy.
A true believer is someone who values the things of God. You should value the word of God, his children, and the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you do that, you will end up experiencing joy in your life.
As they say, life is not a bed of roses. You will experience ups and downs. But like David, you need to encourage yourself in the Lord. Not just that, but you also need to encourage other believers in Christ when they are down. The more you do this, the more you will walk in the joy of the Lord.
As we have already seen, joy is a choice. You choose to walk in it and not your feelings. But for that to happen, you need to have a positive attitude towards life. Yes, life has not been good on your side. You have faced so many challenges, but the thing is God has been faithful.
Choose to think about the great things God has done for you. Focus on how great and loving God is towards you. And have a positive expectation of good even in the middle of the storm.
Practice the Word of God
To live in the fullness of joy, you need to be obedient to the word of God. Do not just be a hearer of the word, be a doer also. Believe that what God says is the truth and live by it. (Philippians 4:8)
When you practice the word of God life, you find peace in your heart. You also live knowing that your life is in tune with God.
Unforgiveness will rob you, peace, and joy. It will cause you to live in bitterness. You will keep on holding onto your past pain, instead of letting go.
But here is the thing; Jesus has already set you free from past pain. You need to let the pain go. Forgive that person for your own good. See, you cannot walk in freedom and joy when you have unforgiveness in your heart. Besides, God expects you to forgive others just the way he forgave you.
Take one step at a time
In this fast-paced world, it is easy to develop the habit of wanting things to happen instantly. But that is not how Christianity works. The Christian life requires us to take one step at a time.
Though Joseph had a dream when he was a teenager, those dreams came true when he was thirty. David was anointed to be king at seventeen years, but that happened when he was thirty years. It took twenty-five years for Abraham to see the manifestation of God’s promise in his life.
You can never experience everlasting joy if you want instant breakthroughs and answers. Learn to be patient.
Giving is an excellent way of finding contentment and joy. See, when you give, you end up feeling good in your heart for helping others.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away. It doesn’t also imply giving stuff just for the sake of it. You need to give out of the goodness of your heart. (Luke 6:38)
Do you know why we keep losing joy? It is because we try to run our own lives. But that is not the way it should be. God created us so that we can depend on him totally.
The cure of a troubled heart is living life, knowing that God is with you. Surrendering your life to God will help you to experience joy and peace. You will live knowing that God is in charge of your life.
Joy is not the same as happiness. While happiness can be affected by circumstances, we can remain joyful amid the storm.
God has given us the fruit of joy. But like every other part of your Christian walk, you need to believe that is true. You also need to walk in joy by drawing it out from your Spirit. You can experience joy every day if you want to. It is a personal choice.
To experience joy in your Christian life, you need to be thankful and diligent. Learn to love others and God. Doing so will cause the joy of the Lord to flood your heart. Praise God even if it doesn’t make sense and surrender everything to him. Be a giver, and God will reward you and cause joy to reign in life. Most of all, learn to take one step at a time.