Woman

Four Practical Ways to Hold on to Joy

- by Joyce Meyer

Did you know that God’s joy is inside you? As God’s children, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and with Him come all the fruits of the Spirit, including joy (see Galatians 5:22-23).

Even though there are so many challenges going on in the world right now, we can still have joy. In fact, it’s incredibly important that we hold on to our joy, because the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10).

You might be thinking, Joyce, that sounds nice, but I’m not experiencing it—I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my joy.

We all have days that are overwhelming, but I have good news for you! Even in the middle of turbulent times, there are steps you can take to open your heart to the genuine, deep joy that Jesus wants you to have (see John 17:13), and I’m going to share four of them with you today.

#1 – Stop trying to figure everything out.

If you’ve heard much of my story, you probably know that years ago, I was addicted to worrying and reasoning. I used to try to figure everything out—from how we were going to pay our bills, to which message I should teach, to how I could change Dave and our kids—and I had no joy.

I lived this way until the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6 really began to sink into my heart. It says,

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way] (AMP).

When we choose to acknowledge God in the middle of our problems, we open the door for Him to begin to work in our situation, and for joy to begin to come back to our hearts.

This doesn’t mean we should neglect our own responsibilities, but it does mean that we can learn to trust God to provide the answers we need at the right time (see Isaiah 30:21; 41:9-10; 58:11).

#2 – Forgive quickly.

This one was extremely difficult for me at first. But it was absolutely life changing to discover that forgiveness is actually a gift for me, not the people who’ve hurt me. You see, forgiveness frees us from the devastating, long-term damage of bitterness, and makes it possible for us to truly enjoy our life again.

God’s Word tells us to forgive quickly and often (see Ephesians 4:26; Matthew 18:22), even when we don’t feel ooey-gooey, loving feelings toward that person (see Ephesians 4:26; Matthew 18:22). Why? Because if we don’t deal with our offenses, that pain will slowly but surely poison our lives, and we certainly won’t be experiencing the joy Jesus came to give us. Because He wants us to thrive, He not only gives us the instruction to forgive, but He also promises to give us the strength to do it (see Philippians 2:13; 4:13)—thank God He never asks us to do something that He doesn’t also empower us to do!

The Bible is filled with amazing reminders about the mercy of God:

When we mess up, God’s forgiveness is one prayer away (see 1 John 1:9; 3:20 ESV). When we come to Him for help, He forgives us, removes our sin, and doesn’t even remember it anymore (see Psalm 103:12, Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 8:12)! And when we come to Him with a sincerely repentant heart, He’ll never turn us away (see Psalm 51:17; 145:18).

When the time comes for us to be merciful to others, Matthew 6:14-15 advises us to be like our loving Father:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (NIV).

When you have even the smallest feeling of offense toward someone, I encourage you to do yourself a favor and forgive—it may not be easy in the beginning, but I know you won’t regret it!

#3 – Remind yourself every day that God loves you.

How often do we take time to actively, purposely remember God’s love for us? I can almost guarantee you we don’t do this nearly enough, and it’s partly because the enemy works hard at attacking our self-esteem from a young age. He often tries to get us to think things like “You’re not____,” “You can’t___,” or “You shouldn’t ____.” By the time we grow up, many of us don’t like ourselves!

But guess what? Even though we have faults and shortcomings and make mistakes, God’s love for us remains the same. In fact, we’re the apple of His eye, His treasured children, and He’s promised to never walk out or give up on us (see Deuteronomy 7:6, 32:9-10; Hebrews 13:5).

The apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:6 (AMPC), I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

This means that you can learn to love your imperfect, messed-up self. Even as you’re changing, you can enjoy yourself and enjoy your life, knowing that you’re a masterpiece in the making—one who’s becoming more and more like Jesus every day.

If you struggle in this area, I encourage you to start each day by speaking out these life-giving truths from God’s Word:

God loves me—He paid a high price just so He could be in relationship with me (see Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Corinthians 7:23).

He’s always thinking beautiful thoughts of me, and every day of my life was written in His book before I was born (see Psalm 139:13-18).

Even when I was in my mother’s womb, God knew me, approved of me and wanted me (see Jeremiah 1:5).

Jesus didn’t get stuck with me—He chose me for a specific, incredible purpose (see Ephesians 1:4), and I get to live it today!

As you begin to really believe what God says about you in His Word, the joy that’s already in you will start to bubble up like never before!

#4 – Laugh – it makes you stronger!

Last (but certainly not least!) is this: laugh! Can you remember the last time you had a deep, hearty laugh? How did you feel after? A good laugh always makes me feel lighter and more rejuvenated afterward, and God knows that we need them often! He tells us in Proverbs 17:22 that “a happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing…” (AMP), so a good laugh really can make you stronger!

Proverbs 13:20 says that when you spend time with wise people, you’ll become wise, and I believe that when you hang out with joyful friends, you’ll grow in your ability to enjoy life.

When you feel frustrated, begin to look for the humor in the situation and laugh about your circumstances. When I learned how to do that, my life became a whole lot more joyful.

No matter what you’re going through right now, I’m believing with you that God is working in you and on your behalf, and that He’s going to help you laugh again.

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