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The Joy He brings

Suggesting a way to increase joy in your life


Gi9rl looking joyful

Sea of faces

I remember an occasion many years ago when I was standing at the front of a church when I was barely more than a teenager. I looked out on the congregation and one face stood out from all the rest. There was a sea of dead-pan, miserable looking faces but this one person was full of Joy. She wasn’t laughing or giggling with her neighbour, she was looking at me just like everyone else, yet pouring out from her was joyfulness. “There,” I thought, “is a woman who knows the reality of Jesus words, “my joy may be in you and your Joy may be complete.”” (John ch15 v11)

Maybe not all the people in that congregation were Christians but many if not most were. Why was the Joy of Jesus not more evident in a group come together for fellowship and worship? We are commanded to rejoice, we are filled with the Spirit whose fruit includes joy. Why do so many live side by side with unhappiness and not triumph over their adversities?

This is why—because joy is a spiritual thing. It is not a natural fall back state when there is an absence of things to be miserable about. We have to choose to live in the way of the Spirit to be filled with God’s joy.

Unhappiness is strength sapping which makes it all the more difficult to step away from—we need to choose to overcome it. Worse than that, misery is a downward spiral our adversary wants us to be on. So how as Christians do we get off that path and make way for the Joy that is ours in Christ Jesus?

Why do so many not triumph over their adversities?

Jesus wants us to have joy

Complete joy

First of all let us be clear that joy is ours for the having. Go back and look at that verse from John ch 15 v11 written out in the first paragraph. Jesus is making sure the disciples have all the knowledge they need so that their joy may be complete. Complete joy—not just a bit now and again, but complete. (This isn’t quite the same as being happy all the time as God created tears too but I am not going to go into a discussion of the differences now). Jesus wants us to have joy so we should actively pursue it.

When misery triumphs

I had a friend who said that she wasn’t going to celebrate her birthday because they had always been disasters in every year that she could remember. Joy was absent and she wasn’t going to pursue it in light of her past experience. Misery had triumphed—misery is not from God.

My friend needed a little help to get out of this place of negative expectation, so we organised a fun time for her. She said it was the best birthday ever. What was it that made it a joyful day? Not the occasion of her birthday, as that had gone so wrong before, but the out pouring of love from those who cared about her.

So for you, I wonder where can we think of an occasion when love was poured out —oh yes—God gave us Jesus in an outpouring of love. Let us tap into that love as a source point for our joy right now. This love is there for everyone who reaches out to God. We do not need to have close friends or family to help us be joyful—they are an added bonus—tap into God’s love as your source. God is always there for us and He should be our starting point for reaching towards joy.

When we are caught up in an occasion of love, even if it is only for a second—maybe through a look, through a gift, through a hug, through a good turn,— everything else fades in its significance. When we are captured in that moment we are free from anxiety and care. Even if you don’t have a single person who you believe cares for you, God loves you. I will say it again because so many people find it hard to believe—God loves you, really loves you. Don’t miss my point. When we are caught in this love, for those moments, we are free from anxiety and care. When we choose God’s love we are choosing to set aside our care and anxiety and it follows that joy has space to emerge.

A pile of brightly wrapped presents

God is always there for us and He should be our starting point for reaching towards joy.


We cannot manufacture joy but we can choose to be obedient to Jesus when he says, “come to me.”



So how do we actually do this?

May I suggest one way to make a place for God’s joy in your life? Sit with your eyes closed and think about the anxieties and cares that you have which block joy from your life. Actually imagine yourself with a heavy bundle filled with these cares. See yourself go to the cross where Jesus hangs. Picture yourself setting your bundle down. Look at Jesus on that cross and say thank you to him for relieving you of them. See Jesus look at you with eyes full of caring love even though he suffers. He wants you to take away from that cross a gift instead of your bundle. It is a gift of His love. Imagine yourself accepting that gift and walking away.

Do this every time you begin to feel miserable or anxious about something. It may be 50 times a day at first if you are heavily weighed down. But keep at it even if it is the same anxiety that you have to keep taking back to the cross because you picked it up again. You have to get used to living your life without these heavy burdens and it may take time.

Please hear me clearly on this next point. It may be that you need someone else’s help to get over your difficulties. It may be that you need the help of a professional and experienced person to come past some of your burdens. Keep praying and leaving your burdens at the cross but this is in addition to any extra or professional help you may need.

We cannot manufacture joy but we can choose to be obedient to Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew ch11 v28). When we take our cares to him we are being obedient and to live a life of joy we must choose that obedience on a daily basis. Jesus cannot redeem what we do not give him.

This won’t immediately give us a happy face (though it may) but it does clear the way making it possible for joy to grow which will eventually show. “Unhappiness is strength sapping,” I said, but “the joy of the Lord is our strength,” (Nehemiah ch8 v10). When we clear the way for joy, strength follows behind. We don’t wait until we feel strong before we seek happiness.

Please let me encourage you to keep pursuing Jesus’ joy in your life. It may be that your circumstances will always be difficult but keep laying them at the cross. It is an exchange. You give Jesus your sorrows and he will give you his joy so that “your joy may be complete” (John ch15 v11).

Let us pray together.

Loving God,

There are many things that burden me and they have pushed a lasting joy out from my life. I don’t really understand how to put aside the things that burden me but your word says “come to me” (Matthew ch11 v28) and so I come to you now in obedience.

There are many things that I would like to give over to you so that the way is cleared for your joy to fill me. I come to the cross of Jesus and I place on the ground (...name your cares and anxieties). Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross and taking these things from me. I choose to leave them there with you and I take up your gift to fill their place. Fill me, Lord God, with your Spirit so that I may grow in your joy day by day through your love. Amen.

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.