Reclaiming Joy: 4 Helps To Uncover Your Joy That Has Been Smothered
Can you name one person that you personally know who is joyful all the time? A few of you may be able to think of one person but that ‘all’ part probably stumps most of us. And yet…
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4) and Rejoice always in 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
God’s Word clearly instructs us to rejoice at all times. To rejoice means there is joy.
If the Lord commands something of us, with the help of the Spirit we can achieve it. We can most properly obey God’s Word when we have a clear understanding of it. When it comes to joy there is great confusion on what it is and isn’t.
What Joy is Not
Joy is not a smile. Your outward appearance is not always a direct indicator of your joy. Certainly, making ourselves presentable has a way of making us feel good but that is not joy. There are many women that look gorgeous by the world’s standards yet, they’ve never tasted what true joy is.
Joy is not wishy-washy. Sleeping through the alarm clock or not sleeping because a child kept you up all night can absolutely affect your mood, but joy from the Spirit is not based on our circumstances.
Joy is not fake-it-till-you-make-it. Putting on your big girl panties and walking into a room with nothing but positivity does not make you joyful. It may force you to ignore your sinful heart and prevent others from being hurt by you; but, take away the people and you’re back to just you and your heart condition.
What Joy Is
Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit that resides in all true believers includes joy. (Gal 5:22) Joy is a special gift that God gives to His children. It, like the Holy Spirit, never leaves us. Can we suppress it and cover it up with our sin? Yes. I’ll give you tips on how to unleash the joy further down.
Joy is eternal. When our hearts have been cleansed of all sin and we faithfully follow the Lord Jesus Christ, the joy given to us will be with us for all eternity. I love how Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, says it is God who makes us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 1:24). We will be able to STAND in the presence of a PERFECT God, completely BLAMELESS and with JOY!
Joy is knowing God. Joy is trusting God’s Sovereignty. Joy is resting in His peace.
Your Joy is Being Smothered
What happens when you know the truths of what joy is and yet you just aren’t feeling it?
First, recognize a sin issue is likely the culprit and it needs to be dealt with. Recognize it and repent.
Here are a few examples that may be smothering your joy:
- Pride. Is there someone or something in your life that is not meeting your expectations?
- Selfishness. Do you feel like you aren’t getting something you deserve?
- Loneliness. Are you looking for a relationship that only the Lord can fulfill?
- Discontentment. Have you praised God for the circumstances He has placed you in?
If one of these or something similar describes you right now, identify it for what it is (sin) and start moving to a place the Lord wants you to be.
Realizing that we have been living in a pattern of sin can make righteous living seem a far-off or impossible task. But, like contentment and a heart for serving one another, being joyful can be learned. We aren’t regenerated and all the sudden have the perfect righteous heart. That’s the beauty of progressive sanctification! God graciously walks with us through this life.
When I repent of my sins it doesn’t automatically revive my smothered joy. It’s now up to me to fill my heart and mind with the things of the Lord and not of myself. I’ve put off, now I need to put on.
There are many places in Scripture you could turn for the ‘putting on’. But first, we must train our minds to read Scripture with a magnifying glass, not speed reading goggles. I’m going to show you through Psalm 34 how you can set free the joy that is in you.
Psalm 34 is a beautiful psalm. It was written by David when he pretended to be a crazy man before Abimelech. You can read more about it in 1Samuel 21:10-15 and I pray you will.
When you recognize that you aren’t as joyful as one who grasps the magnitude of Christ’s forgiveness for your sins grab your Bible and look at Psalm 34 with these 4 things in mind:
Focus on God's Greatness
In Psalm 34:1-3, David lays out what should be the dominant theme every day of our lives. We are to bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continuously be on our lips. David is inviting readers to join him in this exultation! God is worthy of our praise all the time, even when life is hard.
Sometimes it’s hard to give God praise. Our flesh, and Satan, would like nothing more than for us to focus on the trials and disappointments. However, God causes all things to happen and they are always for our good and His glory. We may not always see the good right away but we must never doubt that His way is perfectly planned.
If you are having trouble thinking of things to praise God for, start by simply acknowledging Creation. Look around you and above you, see His hand in all things. Thank Him for protecting you, comforting you, saving you. The more we attribute to God what is rightly His doing, the more embedded in our psyche it will be.
God Hears Your Prayers
Psalm 34, verses 4, 15 and 17 set aside the doubts many believers have when they ask, “Does God even hear my pleas??? Does He care about my requests?” Yes! He does hear His children and He does answer prayers. Sisters, God is near to the brokenhearted and will deliver the righteous from all afflictions.
Understanding God’s Sovereignty dramatically affects how we pray and wait upon the Lord. We cannot waiver in our assurance that He is good all the time. So, when we wait for years or a lifetime, praying continuously for the salvation of a loved one or deliverance from an illness, we can have peace knowing that His timing is perfect.
Seek Him, Lack Nothing
In Psalm 34 verses 9-10, David pleads with us to fear the Lord, for when we do, we lack nothing. In the New Testament, Jesus conveys the same message. Seek God first, make that your priority, and He will nourish and clothe us in the way He sees fit (Matt 6:33).
When we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first we set our priorities right. It’s a domino effect. We intentionally study His Word, we then grow in our love and understanding of who God is, that leads us to desire to please Him more through obedience to the Word, which leads to less sin and more joy!
God Will Make Everything Right
The final verses should comfort us more than anything. God is a righteous judge. Not only will He condemn the evil for all their sins, but He will REDEEM your soul! His children will be released from all the pain, suffering, sadness, disappointment, and SIN from this life. Our joy will be fully realized and fully expressed.
If we can be patient and persevere in this life, we will receive the glorious promise to be transformed from our humble state to a conformity with the body of His glory (Phil 3:21).
Joy isn’t optional. You and I must have a heart that rejoices in all circumstances. God’s Word, when breathed in deeply, can and will remove the layers of sin suppressing our joy. Just imagine how good it would feel to face challenges head on with a proper perspective! Paul did it and he humbly told us to follow his example. Set a lifetime goal to be that person that others say is always joyful.