Every season reveals God’s majesty, but spring is pure joy. I see flowers starting to raise their little heads up out of the Edisto dirt; I see a new baby fawn among the “herd” of deer that visit my garden and I hear birdsongs again after months of cold winter silence. I am joyously in love with spring. I have put away my boots and not going back! All of spring brings me great joy. Spring is about Jesus and the new life He promises through the power of His resurrection. It’s interesting the role joy plays in our lives. Joy can get us moving way beyond our capabilities. Joy can be our strength when there is no strength. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit and is indispensable in my life. Joy should be cherished. There are many forces fighting to steal our joy. We need to recognize the destructive things, which take up residence in our hearts and can be detrimental to our wellness. I call these nasty Joy Snatchers.
Joy Snatcher – Anxiety and Fear. Many of us are worried sick about our health, our finances and our futures. “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25). When the weight of anxiety and fear shackles our minds, we cannot dance with joy as the Lord commanded us to do. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” How do we rejoice always and have no anxiety about anything, as Paul exhorts? We can ask God to reveal the anxious thoughts that weigh us down. When they are revealed, we cast our burdens on Him and trust that He will sustain us. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Joy Snatcher – Comparing and Coveting. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to “Be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). God abundantly blesses us with blessing upon blessing. But when we covet or resent the blessings of others, our joy quickly goes down the drain! Discontentment and ungratefulness are like two greedy hands pulling the stopper in our bathtub of joy. When we focus on what others have, be it a larger home, better looks, better husband, better kids or stronger health, we are silently questioning God’s goodness, faithfulness and love for us. Being thankful is the secret of joyful living. Acknowledging this truth David exclaims, “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound” (Psalm 4:7). When we choose contentment over coveting, we have more. Paul said to Timothy in I Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Charles H. Spurgeon said, “Many a Christian has a thousand reasons for joy, which he knows nothing of.”
Joy Snatcher – Sin. Anything that pulls us away from God will also pull us away from joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “In his presence is the fullness of joy,” and “strength and joy are in his dwelling place” (I Chronicle 16:27).
Once we take a bite of sin it hooks and enslaves us, but God’s laws “give joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:8). When we obey God, we experience supernatural and untarnished joy that no sin can offer. When we choose to walk by the Spirit rather than our flesh, the fruit of joy blooms in our lives as expressed in Galatians 5:22-23.
Joy Snatcher – Busyness and Over Commitment. When we overcommit our lives, we leave no space for joy in our hearts. When we live life at warp speed, we miss the quiet, green pastures where God wants to restore our souls. Do you often find yourself saying: “I am the only one doing anything around here … If I don’t do it, it won’t get done …” Psalm 127:1-2 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it … It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late … for he gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” So what if it doesn’t get done. Overachieving is not worth losing my joy.
Why is it important to us to be able to recognize these Joy Snatchers? Because joy is a gift from God. Psalm 126:3 says, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” It is our possession, our birthright and a sign of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23). Mother Teresa said it this way “Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
Stay strong and jump for joy!
FP4H National Director