First, I formally apologize for not writing this sooner. If any of you have been in high school and know what it’s like to be drowning in schoolwork, well, that’s been me. It’s so easy to forget about commitments.
So to finish off the JOY series, I told you about JOY in Part one. And what it is. But how might one possess joy, real joy?
Jesus is truly the answer to real joy. If He isn’t in your life, then joy isn’t in your life. But like me, perhaps He is in your life, and if He is, then it means that you have joy, even if you can’t feel it now.
And for those of us who can’t feel the joy of Jesus now, I have a story.
Once, I asked my father: “Are people who aren’t sorry for sinning while they say they’re Christians really Christians?”
“There are two possibilities,” he replied. “One possiblity is that they don’t have God’s Spirit making them feel sorry for their sins …and the other one is that they have God’s Spirit, but they’re repressing it and God’s going to discipline them later.”
I feel like Scenerio #2 applies to Christian joy. If you are a Christian and you love Jesus, then you have joy, but even for Christians, weeds—sins—can take roots in our hearts and block out the light of joy.
This was where I was, a year ago. I was a Christian—I was saved—but I had let weeds of sin shade out my joy. I didn’t really invest in knowing Jesus. Influences—not all of them good—had seeped into my life and turned me away.
The seemingly most benign, most harmless, things might actually influence us to sin and sadness in ways we don’t even realize. I now recognize three things that contributed to make for a harmful spiritual state for me:
- I was idolizing someone. Here’s why I’m catious about crushes: it’s easy, so easy, for people to become God for us. And when we idolize people and make them our god and think of them all the time, all their whims and little actions and cares are blown waaaaaay out of proportion for us. See, idolizing people doesn’t work—they change, so often, and the littlest thing they say or do, not even meaning to, can like a knife plunge into the depths of your heart and carve a lasting wound. And it’s our fault. God is the only idol we should ever have, but it’s good for us to worship Him alone, for God is steadfast and never subjects us to suffer from mistakes or problems that He has (of which He has none!)
- I had a friend who dragged a lot of problems into my life. Don’t get me wrong. I love her and I always will. But the way that she constantly brought her problems of suicide and depression into every conversation, and the way I always had to provide some sort of consolation, didn’t exactly make for the healthiest relationship. Is there a person in your life who drags you down? Don’t relentlessly invest in a person who doesn’t love Jesus and won’t encourage you or build you up. If a person is constantly dragging you down, that can be dangerous, and in the end both of you will end up worse than you started. Be there if they need help, and share the love of Jesus with them, but don’t let yourself be manipulated into continuing a harmful, one sided relationship.
- Certain influences were removed from my life. Providentially, God took away everything that was blocking my joy in Him. When my ties with the friend were cut off, my interest in certain types of music died out. Ironically, I noticed that the type of music I listened to inspired me to think constantly about (and therefore idolize) the person that I liked, and that idolization caused me lots of problems depression wise. Another thing was that I was constantly on the Internet, even when my parents forbade it, and exposed to all kinds of bad influences, and my computer got a virus. Thus, end of computer problem. My point here is: pay careful attention to what you’re exposing your heart to. Whether it’s music, books, relationships, friends, social media—all of this influences us in some way. It could be that there might be certain influences that are inspiring you to sin and blocking out God’s joy in your heart. The best way to know is to ask Him to show you what it is that is causing sin and sadness in your life, and to take it away. Just so you know: It might hurt.
But the replacement is joy. And, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”