What If I Was Joyful?
Have you ever been to Cracker Barrel at 1pm on a Sunday? It’s miserable (except for the Biscuits and Gravy that stuff is GOOD). I mean, it seems like everyone in Morehead is inside that country-fresh building: absolute chaos. What about the mall on Black Friday? Or a high school hallway, concerts, or even Starbucks at any time of the day – they’re all busy, all the time, and it’s a reflection of all our lives.
Or what about the days when you have to work until 5pm, your kids need picked up by 3:30pm, and they have soccer games at 7pm? You have to eat at some point - right? Eventually you just feel sorry for yourself and buy 20 chicken nuggets with a jumbo-sized Dr. Pepper at the Valero.
What about the times when you feel like the world is crashing down around you? Your parents divorce; you’re worried about your friends leaving you; you’re worried about your grades and getting into a good college with scholarships, but you know that someone has to help support your family. We’re easily swallowed by our circumstances, whatever they may be.
But what if I told you that you could make all of this chaos go away? What if I told you our emotions aren’t determined by our circumstances?
Our emotions aren't determined by our circumstances.
Have you ever noticed when someone gets really great news that they dance a little jig to themselves? Like when you find out that it’s half- price shakes day at Sonic. Dancing is a part of who we are. When we are happy, we dance; we let loose and dance a little as an expression of happiness.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to study under some amazing artists at summer camp. Any time we were happy about an accomplishment we had made, or a compliment someone had given us or really anything, we had to do our dance. On the first day of our three-week camp, we were all “circled up” and told to showcase our dance on a whim. No preparation, no time to think, just time to kick off your shoes and do what made you happy. We each had our own individual dance that was unique to our personalities that we got to showcase when we felt happy. It was our dance. And our dance showed that we were full of utter Joy.
Romans 12:12 says: “Rejoice in your confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Here’s the kicker: We are supposed to be joyful in our hope and patient in trouble. No matter what the world is throwing at us, we should be continuously joyful in hope. We must persevere through the valleys in order to reach the mountaintops. The Apostle Paul goes on: “Keep on praying.” Prayer is the only way to stay in constant communication with God; if our Joy comes from God, why wouldn’t we be in constant prayer? Why wouldn’t we be in constant communication with the one who will give us our eternal joy?
"We must persevere through the valleys in order to reach the mountaintops."
Happiness is great, but it doesn’t last forever. Happiness comes from worldly things; true joy comes from the Father. Jesus is going to give you the joy that will sustain you. Chase after that. Chase after Joy. Chase after Jesus. You can’t be captivated by Jesus if you’re overwhelmed by your circumstances. Often times, our emotions are determined by the lens in which we view our circumstances; if we allow our circumstances and our emotions to be in control of our lives, we will never be full of joy, which is disobedience to God’s command for us. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
You can't be captivated by Jesus if you're overwhelmed by your circumstances.
Jesus wants us – commands us - to be full of joy. If you’re not exuding joy, then you’ve been swallowed by your circumstances and must allow God to be your rest and the source of your joy. Our joy isn’t determined by our circumstances – it is the natural fruit of a heart focused on Christ.