As Christians we can’t count on everything going our way all the time. Rather we need to train ourselves to be content in whatever our circumstances.
We need to depend on the Lord for our joy. Along the way we need to watch out for things that can steal our joy.
- Comparing ourselves with others. This is so common and a huge joy killer. We start out thankful for what we have until we see what someone else has. Comparing ourselves to others will always leave us with a discontented spirit because there will always be someone else with more. This means we can’t enjoy what God has provided for us.
- A constantly critical spirit. Some people see the glass half full and others see it half empty. How we perceive and judge reality around us is important. But a constantly critical spirit seems to disable any ability to see the beauty and good in God’s creation. We can’t enjoy the people in our lives because we only see their faults. If everything we smell stinks then the problem may be with our nose rather than with everything else. A critical spirit does not reflect Christ-like character and will not only bring us down but those around us.
- A mindset of scarcity. I don’t know if you have ever seen those shows about people who hoard but it’s rather hard to believe. They can’t let go of anything. There are stacks of old newspapers, empty yogurt containers, clothes that no longer fit and more random items than you’ll find in a second-hand shop. They can barely walk in their home due to all the clutter. The hoarders are driven by a fear of scarcity; a sense that they must hold on to everything in case they need it someday. When our lives are driven by scarcity rather than trust in God’s abundance, it’s hard to experience joy. We can never rest in the sense of God’s provision and care. That robs us of joy.
Biblical joy is not based on our circumstances. In fact, James 1:2 tells us to consider it joy when we go through difficult trials and hardships. Scripture teaches us that joy is a fruit of the spirit, a product of God being at work in our lives whatever the situation that we find ourselves in. This is hard but important to remember. Joy doesn’t depend on me having more than others, it can’t develop if I’m always critical of everyone else nor can it characterize me if I’m driven by not having enough. I need to hold the things in this life lightly and look deeper at the spiritual work that God is doing in my soul. I can’t manufacture joy but I can let God produce it in me. Joy comes through our relationship with Jesus. My time and energy needs to go to knowing him more and worrying less about my circumstances.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12