Is it possible…to sustain JOY? Jesus came that your joy might be complete. (John 15:11) You might paraphrase that to read, Jesus came that your joy-tank might be full! And it behooves us to cooperate with the Lord—to do what is our responsibility to do to keep that joy tank full.
We believe that it is possible to sustain joy. In fact, joy can be characteristic of us. The image of the face lighting up followed by a big smile should be what comes to mind as you think of each other.
Joy is not happiness; it is important to not confuse the two. Happiness is much more surface and susceptible to fluctuating circumstances. A snarky remark can burst your happy bubble, but joy is deeper and made of more durable stuff. You can build a foundation of joy through relationship with Jesus first of all so that joy is your bottom line as well as your highest expression! Joy can be your beginning and end, your top and bottom.
You can have JOY in the midst of the fear of a tornado overhead (but probably not happiness!). You are definitely glad to have your family with you in that situation. And Joy is “someone glad to be with me.” You can have joy in the midst of an explosive hurtful discussion. Joy keeps you working to resolve the problem rather than imploding in disappointment. Joy is the bottom that holds you from falling into a pit of depression. It is the strength that sustains you through the trial of grief.
As I was meditating on Nehemiah 8:10 that says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” I thought to ask my Hebrew friend about the language. Is it God’s joy in me or is it my joy in response to God’s presence in me. Her response was, “it is the joy, happiness, overflow gaiety of God that is my fortress, for I can hide in it. God is the origin of JOY. Thus, when He is in me, joy is in me. And it is that joy that is my fortress and I can hide in it. In it I feel protected.”
Then the Lord showed me my “inner landscape”. I saw what I can only call a “zone;” a place on my inner landscape that was illuminated. I “knew,” without words, that this was my safety zone. This was the place where I could come to find living water, peace, direction, safety; everything I need—this was Joy’s Place.
I “knew” that I needed to learn how to make this my home as well. This place is my “high tower, my refuge, my fortress. I have to learn how to live in joy, to approach life from the place of joy, from within the joy zone. I need to learn what causes me to lose my way, and what dulls my senses so I cannot perceive joy. And most importantly, I need to learn how to find my way back here when I am lost, confused, fearful or overwhelmed.
Again, God communicated without words that my presence in the “Joy Zone” increases God’s joy, or“overflowing gaiety!” The zone will become larger and larger as I spend more time there until my entire inner landscape will become saturated with JOY that has overflowed from God being happy that I choose to live where He lives! This is not to turn inward away from life, but to do life from the place of joy.
Like the well in the picture above, joy flows constantly and overflows the area around it. It saturates the landscape. A wonderful benefit from being fully saturated with joy is that when people, troubles and the pains of life crash into you, you will splash joy on those who hurt you rather than spewing acid, venom and hatred!
The $64,000.00 question is “so…how do you sustain joy; how do you begin?” Two answers come to mind. 1) Personal time hanging out with Jesus, learning His ways, His heart, His thoughts–not facts about Him, but knowing Him. A by-product of hanging out with Him is joy. 2) Come to Thrive Training or join a Connexus class to learn relational brain skills and relational joy. It carries over into your relationship with Jesus.
Note that in both answers you learn relational brain skills from someone who already knows how to grow joy and sustain it—someone with greater capacity than you. Relational joy with Jesus overflows into relationships with others and relational joy with others overflows into relationship with Jesus. They build on each other. And that is how you sustain your joy!
Our last Thrive Training for 2014 is just around the corner!
May your joy be full,
Chris & Carol,
Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Twitter – @coursey_chris