A Life of Joy in a World of Sorrow
I can't even imagine life without joy. You may not realize it but we all have a fundamental need for joy in our life. There are at least three characteristics that defines a person without joy. Life without joy is 1. Overwhelming, 2. Overburdened, and 3. Oppressive. Groups have actually done studies that show the more joy a person has in their lives, the more productive they are. I find it true in my own life. I have more energy, more creativity, and more productivity when I'm in the joy mode.
I call the book of Philippians the joy book. It only has four chapters but the Apostle Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.
If you're living in sorrow right now, it's most likely because of discouragement and depression. Joy is like a light. Go into a dark room and turn on the light and the darkness disappears. Joy will diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. When joy fills our hearts, discouragement and depression disappear.
So how do we turn on the light of joy? Paul tells us in the book of Philippians to get rid of some things. Listen, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down, overburdening your life and draining your batteries. Way too many Christians are letting their past rob them of their joy. The starting point of joy for a Christian is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before." Forget your past sins and failures, God has!
Something else, stop worrying! Light and darkness can't coexist and neither can worries and joy. So stop worrying about your future. You can't enjoy the present if you're worrying about the future. Mark it down, worry is a killjoy! Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God". Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. You can either worry or you can pray.
Another thing Paul teaches us about living a life of joy is yielding ourselves to God's purpose. People who live only for themselves will never experience real joy. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy. Paul had literally lost everything but there was one thing that could not be taken away from him, his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ but to die is gain”. God had a purpose for Paul's life and Paul had joy even in Prison because he was yielded to God's purpose for his life.
If you want to have a joy-filled life, you need to get in line with God’s purpose for your life. When you begin to live the purpose for which you are made, life makes sense, and joy is a lot more easily found. God Bless!