What makes you happy? Many of us think if we just made more money or could win the lottery, we would be happy. For some, our happiness is based on relationships such as marriage or friendships. For others, happiness revolves around sports. And of course, if we can’t find happiness in other things, we tend to search for happiness in CHOCOLATE!
Unfortunately chocolate is not enough for the things that have been going on lately. Last week our country was rocked by an intentional bombing at the Boston Marathon injuring many innocent people on April 15. Just days later West, Texas was devastated by the explosion at a fertilizer plant on April 17. The same week marked the anniversaries of the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19 and the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20. Many in our nation were affected personally on a scale that is unimaginable. Whether you were affected personally or not, however, you WERE affected. We often find ourselves glued to the television in shock wondering how such things could happen.
Aside from national tragedies, we all have personal issues that often rock our world. Deaths, strained relationships, illness, heartache, and so many other things affect the happiness of our daily lives. Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Unfortunately that does not literally mean we will weep through the night and tomorrow everything will be ok. But instead it assures us that there WILL be a time of joy even in the midst of our trials.
The happiness that things such as money, relationships, sports, and chocolate provide is NOT the same as joy. Happiness comes and goes, but joy is long lasting and brings true contentment. Happiness causes short term pleasure, but joy is long lasting. Happiness isn’t something that you can cling to during the trials of life, but real joy endures the trials. True joy is only found through a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I’ve never had to retrieve water from a well. When I was young we had a well, but it had a pump. But like me, if you haven’t actually done it, you’ve probably observed it on Little House on the Prairie or some other show. Water didn’t just come out the sink by turning a knob as it does for us today. A bucket tied to a rope was lowered down into the well and then rolled back up and carried to the house for use.
For Christians, joy is like a bottomless well of water. The water is always there, but we have to lower the bucket to get it. It takes effort on our part. We can’t just turn the knob and expect joy to flow freely. We must make the choice each day to lower our bucket. So how exactly do we get the joy into our bucket?
- Pray – When things are out of your control, pray as if every aspect of the situation hinges on your prayer. James 5:16 says, “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” Prayer is not a one-sided conversation for you to tell God what you want or how you feel. He wants to talk to you too, but often we do not take the time to listen.
- Believe – Trust God to bring you through it. Psalms 34:19 says, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” His plan is not our plan, so things may not work out exactly how we wanted. But He WILL carry you through. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
- Read the Bible – Search for what God wants you to learn. Don’t just sit down to read quickly through a daily plan. Take the time to search for what God wants to say to you through those verses.
- Look for positive aspects of life – Each day make an effort to find one good thing no matter how desperate your situation. Record those blessings in a Gratitude Journal so that you can see and hold in your hand all the blessings He bestowed during the trials.
- Avoid whining and complaining – Instead of making you feel better, complaining actually highlights the negative, keeping it your focus, and just makes the situation worse.
- Serve others – Doing something for someone else in their time of need helps you forget your own troubles for a moment and increases your joy while decreasing your stress.
- Laugh – Laughing actually provides many benefits. It relaxes the body, relieves stress and pain, benefits heart and immune systems. Laughter really is good medicine. So watch a funny movie, hang out with a friend who tells stupid jokes, or whatever makes you laugh.
Finally, guard your bucket. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy. He wants to rob you of your joy and will use anything possible to discourage us, cause us to worry, and even create doubt. When it seems that your Bucket Full of Joy is running low, go back to the well. Make sure that you are praying, believing, and reading your Bible. Make the choice every day to lower your bucket, and remember Psalms 30:5 which says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
We won’t always be happy, but we can still have joy in the midst of the chaos.
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