Finding Joy in the Moment

 “Happiness makes up for in height what it lacks in length.”

Robert Frost

This week I saw a link posted on social media about a contestant on a talent show. They asked her some questions, and it turned out she was battling cancer. She performed a song she had written titled It’s Okay. When she finished to a standing ovation, they were talking about the way she connected with people and her genuineness that shone through. She said, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

There was a lot of truth in that statement. Her joy and happiness came through both in the words she spoke as well as in the lyrics to the song. She was finding joy in the moment of being on stage and singing for an audience, but it doesn’t have to be something that big. Joy can be found in the smallest of moments.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalms 118:24

Earlier this week I was driving to work when I saw an animal scurry across the road ahead of me, but I couldn’t tell what it was until I got closer. The animal had stopped at the edge of the wood and looked back to the road just as I got even with it. It was a fox heading home after a long night. Something that simple brought me a moment of joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4

I have been going through The Joy Box Journal by Adria Wilkins, which follows along the same lines of finding joy in everyday events. The saying that you find what you are looking for is very true because if you want to find joy, you will find it. If you are looking to be offended, then you will find something to offend you. If you look for the bad in people, you will find it. But, what kind of life is that?

I challenge you in the coming week to look for at least one moment of joy each day. Write it down. Better yet, post it in the comments and share your joy. In the meantime, check out the video of Nightbirde singing, if you haven’t already, and be inspired.

So, what brings you joy?

The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that make life enjoyable. It’s the little victories or the little surprises that bring us the most joy. A couple of weekends ago my sister and I finally stained the mantle of my electric fireplace. The mantle was a little stained and faded, and I had purchased the supplies for the project over a year ago, but it just never got done. Since I was cleaning it off in preparation for holiday decorating, she offered to help me stain it. It took less than an hour, but the effect was stunning. Every time I looked up at it that weekend I couldn’t help but smile. It was a small thing that brought great joy.

For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

Zechariah 4:10

The scriptures tell us not to despise the small things, the small starts, because they are the beginning of something greater. Every project has to start somewhere even if it is a baby step. It is one more step than we have ever done before, so it is progress in the right direction. Like a father watching his child take it’s first steps, God Our Father takes joy in even the smallest of victories.

Joy – Shepherd’s Candle

God has always been pleased to work among the least of men, or the least in the eyes of the world. When Christ was born in Bethlehem, God didn’t announce it to the leaders. He announced it to the shepherds at work in the field.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

Why the shepherds? Maybe it was because God knew they would find joy in the arrival of the babe. They were men who spent their lives in nature and among the animals and had learned to appreciate the simple things in life. They also were representative of the common man, and the Messiah had come to earth to save all who would believe, no matter what their station in life.

Little Victories

God is a God of details. Creation is full of tiny reminders of His Glory, from the stars above to the ground below. He is interested in even the smallest details of our lives. He does not despise the little victories. He celebrates with us. So, this season take a moment to enjoy the small things like a peppermint mocha, finding the right present for someone, hearing your favorite carol on the radio, or a purring cat on a cold winter night. Give thanks for the small things and spread the joy.

Joy > Happiness

The catch phrase in writing these days is “do the work,” which is good advice, but I think I like Ray Bradbury’s take on it better. He was giving a speech in 2001 and said write what gives you joy and then it will never be work. While that is true, I must also point out that just because you have joy doesn’t mean you will always be happy or that it will always be easy. It just means there is something greater than the temporary trials and frustrations of everyday work. Joy is greater than happiness.

Psalms 30:1-5 says:

“ I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Most people only quote verse five about joy coming in the morning, but they don’t dwell on the four verses before that. Verse one mentions victory over foes, which means there were foes. Verse two says you have healed me, which means there was sickness. Verse three says you kept me alive, which means there was danger. Verse four talks about God’s holiness, but it is in relation to His anger, which means there was sin.

As humans in a fallen world, we deal with hard things on a daily basis. There are enemies, sickness, dangers, and sin. We do have to work, both for a living and at being more Christ-like, but we have a joy that comes from God which is greater than happiness. Happiness is totally dependent on our circumstances, but joy is a gift that comes every morning.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 3:22-23)

The book of Lamentations is basically a funeral dirge after the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is crying over the loss of the city and the temple, yet even here he points out that God is faithful because His mercies are being renewed each day. Therefore, we know that regardless of our circumstances God is faithful to give us joy each day. Like any gift, however, we must receive the gift in order to benefit from it. The present will be useless still wrapped in a bow in the hands of the Giver.

Once we receive the gift we can have joy even when times are hard. The best upgrade we can receive in life is to trade in happiness for joy. Then we can be grateful, not for the difficult circumstances, but for the presence of God even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

(Psalm 16:11)

So, take the upgrade and let joy rule your life instead of happiness because with it comes a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). It will fill your spirit even in the worst situations. We can have joy in the morning because these things are temporary and will pass, but the love of God is eternal. That you can count on.

Joy in the Morning

Young Man 2

Young Man walked across me slowly and intentionally, making sure each paw poked my ribs or elbow with precise accuracy. He was fulfilling his self-imposed job of waking me up; however, his internal alarm clock was an hour or two off, so I tried to ignore him. He is not one to be ignored and not above using the cute factor to his advantage. This morning he plopped onto the bed where the sheets were folded back, curving onto his back and facing me. He tilted his head and then proceeded to wallow in the sheets on his back in what can only be described as pure joy. Then, he reached out a paw to me, so I reached back and petted him only to be rewarded with a nip. It was meant in love but it was still a nip. I pulled my hand back and rolled out of bed and stumbled to his food bowl, which was slightly empty, and refilled it. I was rewarded with happy munching, so I went back to bed.

When I did get up, I sat down on the couch with my coffee and watched as he strolled into the living room to settle down for a nap on the rug in front of me. I might have been more annoyed that he woke me up so that he could nap except for the fact that while I was watching him I noticed something. I couldn’t see his ribs. You see, for the last 6 months or so he had been sick and lost a lot of weight. He was finally diagnosed with IBS and after changing food twice and then switching to a daily oral medication, he had started to improve. Besides the obvious that he was starting to gain weight again, I could see it in the joyful wallowing in the sheets that morning. He felt good. That was a joy to me.

Besides the current issues we are facing from the Corona Virus, we also recently faced physical storms as well. I am reminded of Psalm 30:5 “For his anger endSunshineureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” The storms on Easter day were replaced by bright and sunny week. While we are still sheltering at home or abiding by social distancing, we know that this too will end and morning will come.

SunriseI am reminded of Good Friday when there was a lot of weeping. Yet, on that Sunday at the resurrection, there was joy. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Trials and tribulations are a given, but so is joy. Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.” We have joy because we have hope for a better day.

Whatever you are struggling with today, you can know that we have hope and joy because we have a God that will go with us each step of the way. So, take a page from Young Man’s book and celebrate the little joys of the moment, whether it’s sheets fresh from the dryer, a cup of hot tea, or a beautiful sunset. It may be Friday, but Sunday is a coming. In the meantime, let’s make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in and look for the joy of His Presence wherever we may be.