The countdown has started. I hear it in conversations around me, on social media and even in books I’m reading. We are halfway into the year 2020, but we’re done with it already. We want to reclaim our joy, but aren’t sure how.
I feel it too. Not only am I navigating a school year with three kids that is unlike anything we’ve ever known, but our family is seeking God’s guidance in other challenges as well. It seems as though every time we move past one hurdle, another one surfaces. You too, friend?
I try to remember these circumstances are temporary, but often feel like a dark shadow is looming. The weight of it overwhelms. One morning, God brought Psalm 51:12 to mind and I prayed it throughout the day on repeat.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12 NIV
Every time my thoughts went to a gloomy place, I recited it. And I realized something my downcast soul had forgotten.
Joy is something we have to pursue. It is a state of mind we must actively grab with both hands. It is not something that simply happens because of desire.
This light-bulb moment ignited something in me. I asked myself, “Is it possible to not only reclaim our joy, but hold onto it when troubles come?” I believe it is. I know, deep in my bones, that it doesn’t take a new year to bring new beginnings. It doesn’t take a date on the calendar to reclaim the hope we somehow lost.
Here are three ways to not only reclaim your joy this year, but hold onto it:
Give thanks, even in the hard.
I can’t tell you how many times I read these words and wondered if such a command was even possible.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 NIV
Some truths can only be learned through experience, and I suspect James’ own hardships showed him the joy of the Lord goes beyond our circumstances. During one of the loneliest periods of my life after moving to a new town, he revealed that those moments of heartache were transforming my heart to become more like his. The more I worshipped and gave thanks despite my situation, the more he shifted my perspective.
Create boundaries with toxic people.
There are people who will find a reason to complain no matter what life brings. Whether it’s because of the poor food at the restaurant or the slow service at the store, they are never happy. The saying, “Misery loves company” was coined for one simple reason: it’s true.
The people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on the trajectory of our lives. If there is a person in your circle of friends who is always grumbling and darkening your outlook, consider creating a healthy boundary.
Be an encourager, and surround yourself with them too.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to give up on a project, dream or task, and someone offered an unexpected word of encouragement. Often, it comes from people who surprise me. And in those moments, I realize how much our words matter. I make it a point to offer the same support I received to someone else.
In taking our focus off ourselves, we not only bring someone else joy, but we receive it as well. We see that the church is not simply about one person making an impact, but about an entire body supporting each other and building each other up.
Joy begets joy. John states that his joy was made complete by sharing the message of Jesus’ love eternal life with others.
“We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:4 NIV
Remember our God is a God of restoration.
When I prayed Psalm 51:12 on repeat, one word stood out to me: restore. Our God is in the business of restoring the lost, broken, and weak. It’s an integral part of who he is. As a matter of fact, he promises to restore what we’ve lost when he creates a new earth.
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5
When grief and tragedy consume us, all hope is not lost. Our God has promised to restore what the darkness in this world consumes. The joy he promises is not temporary, but eternal. And one day he will wipe our tears away for good. (Revelation 21:4)
Friends, our savior entered this world so that our lives would be full. His joy is real and his love is not lacking in anything. When the troubles of this world surround you, practice these steps. Keep pursuing him and the triumph he brings. Remember he honors those who seek him, and he will meet the deepest needs of your heart.
If you need further encouragement that God is for you, even in the midst of the struggle, uncertainty, and unknown future, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season, which encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
You can purchase a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.