“Are you joyful?”
Have you been asked that recently? Have you ever been asked that? You’re asked if you’re happy, but that’s not the same as joyful. In fact, in order to be truly happy, you need joy. We can feel a temporary happiness, but without that magic ingredient of joyfulness, happiness will fade.
We have a massive problem with being joyful. A big flashing indicator of this: the rise of depression. Women experience depression at nearly twice the rate that men do, and 12 million women experience depression in the U.S. each year. Why is this? Science says that it comes down to factors like “stress from work, family responsibilities, the roles and expectations of women and increased rates of sexual abuse and poverty.” (source) Those who believe in God can add another factor to that list: a widening gap between us and the wellspring of joy God offers to all His children.
No one would consciously choose to avoid joy. We need it in our lives almost as much as we need oxygen. But joy is such a tricky thing to hold onto, isn’t it? When we’re dealing with debt, death of loved ones, or political and social unrest, among countless other “joy drainers,” it is reasonable to feel like joy is just figment of your imagination.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Have you heard the story of Job? Have you seen the uncanny serenity on the faces of some who have faced unthinkable situations? Have you watched a child discover a new skill or part of this world for the first time? Joy is not something that is reserved for those who have everything going their way. Joy is a primal feeling and mode in which we can live and operate at all times, no matter who we are or what our circumstances hold.
“But how?” you might be asking. What do you do when life comes at you with a tornado of destruction and sorrow? How do you strengthen your soul to withstand trials that want nothing more than to disintegrate it? Does journeying through the deepest valley of grief mean you’ve lost your joy forever? This month, we will focus on what it takes to keep a “joy reserve” in your life. We will hear from people who have faced the unthinkable and are singing the praises of their Lord rather than cursing Him. Join us as we learn what it means to have joy – true joy – and how we can bring ourselves to a place where we can truly “count it all joy.”
4word is generously sponsored by James Avery