It’s almost Christmas, my friends, and I pray you are surrounded by so much joy this season! Joy is better than happy. And that’s what we’re going to talk about. But if you’ve been listening in for a while, you know that “Joy: Better Than Happy” is the title of Episode number 63 that I recorded the week of Christmas last year. And here’s the deal - exactly what I covered last year is exactly what I felt prompted to talk about again this year. Hence, Joy: Better Than Happy Revisited.
And it’s really been prompted by just everything that’s going on in our world today. Every time I turn around, I hear of someone losing someone they love - young and old - to illness and disease, freak accidents, suicide, and fluke things that just don’t make sense. And I feel overwhelmed with grief for them. How do you find it possible to have a ‘Merry’ Christmas when you’re experiencing so much loss and your heart is shattered?
At the beginning of this podcast, I recorded two episodes with a focus on the holidays called “So You’ll Know…during The Holidays” and “So You’ll Know…The Gift Of Presence.” These titled “So You’ll Know” were bonus episodes that were intended to help people know how to help someone who has lost a loved one. I talk about what to say, or not to say; what to do, or not do. And basically, the idea was to just give some tips on how to navigate through the difficult and sometimes awkward situations that we find ourselves in with regards to loss. With these two specifically, I talk about how the holidays impact people who have lost a spouse, or people who are just lonely.
I pray you never have to experience this kind of loss. But one thing I've come to realize is that you don't "know" until you "know". So, with these two bonus episodes, my purpose was to help you "know" – what it feels like, what you’d need, what brings hope and healing - without having to go through the pain and grief that it brings. So, if you’d like to know, go listen to those two episodes. They’re just after episode number 6 and number 10.
Today, though, I want to talk to the ones who are hurting this holiday season. I want to talk about joy…again. So, I’m just going to insert the recording from last Christmas and pray that it’s exactly what you need right now. I know it’s what I need, too, and I feel like this is where God is leading me for this episode. I pray an abundance of joy for you, my friend, this Christmas season. Here’s the recording.
Welcome to Episode number 63 - Joy: Better Than Happy. So, I’m just going to jump right in and recognize that if you’ve experienced any form of loss, you may be experiencing grief such that you feel the weight of what might best be described as melancholy this Christmas.
Temporary melancholy within a balanced life of all emotions can serve as a good thing. After all, we don’t know highs without the lows. We don’t know the beauty of what we have without the contrast of loss, right? Feeling melancholy reminds us that somewhere at some time we have experienced hope and a light heartedness and even happiness. Melancholy is just one of hundreds of emotions or feelings available to us in this human experience — it’s not a disorder. And as long as we move forward through the emotions - processing them - and not get stuck there, it can be a powerful tool to appreciate the now, and helps us to understand all aspects of life.
So, it’s okay to feel the way you feel right now. You’re allowed. Nothing is wrong with you.
But one thing you might be saying to yourself right now is, “I just want to be happy.”
I get that. I really do. So, what if there’s something that’s better than happy that’s available to you?
I was recently coaching a client and just taking an assessment of where she was when we started and where she is now. The difference is remarkable. I already knew the tools I had to offer and teach her were effective, but the way she lives her life now is the greatest evidence I could ask for. But after the assessment I asked her what was one thing she was looking to focus on next. She said, “I want to find joy in my life. In all the things, I want joy.”
Well, her desire is one I hear a lot. But I questioned her - Do you want joy, or is it happiness you’re looking for.
Because here’s the deal. As a believer, when you believe in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for you on the cross, God puts the Holy Spirit within you giving you the desire to obey and the power to do what pleases Him, Philippians 2:13 says. The second fruit named as a result of the Holy Spirit in you is Joy. Love, Joy, peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self-control. So Joy is already given to you. Joy is due to the deep, internal, spiritual connection we have with God upon salvation. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full,” John 15:11.
Joy is something deep-seated. It’s planted in your soul and spirit. A seed that for sure can grow. But it’s there, nonetheless, and cannot be removed.
Now, Joy is different than happiness, Right? Happiness is a whole different thing. Happiness is an emotion that ebbs and flows with our experiences of our circumstances. It is directly related to external things. And more directly, with our thoughts about those external things. It’s our thoughts that are creating an experience or an environment for us to feel happy about something or not.
But joy…joy is always there, regardless of how happy we feel in the moment. In fact, joy is most realized when we aren’t feeling happy…when we’re feeling sad, or broken, or ripped apart by this life. It helps remind us of all that’s good and most important in our lives. It keeps us grounded to what is true, and honorable, and right. It brings us back to God’s love that is better than life. Better than anything we could ever define, desire, or chase after. In the midst of the unbearable circumstances of life, we can still feel joy, deep down inside.
It’s what becomes our compass, so we don’t get lost…or too far down the path. It’s what gives us hope to come back from hopelessness. It’s what becomes our firm foundation when the world seems to crumble out from beneath us. Joy is not something that ebbs and flows. But it can grow.
So, when we’re asking God to give us more joy, we’re literally asking Him to give us something He’s already given. He cannot give us joy AGAIN. It’s already given. BUT can have more of it. The seed can grow. But this is not God’s responsibility to make it grow, but ours.
Psalm 16:11 says that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy. Proverbs 10:28 says the hope of the righteous shall be joy. The Hope of the righteous is our salvation in Jesus Christ, and this shall be our joy.
Our joy grows and permeates our being when we are pursuing God’s heart, making time to be in His presence, surrendering ourselves before Him in humility, and determining our daily purpose to know and love Him more. That’s how our joy grows. That’s how we have joy in all things.
Then nothing we might face in life can move us. Nothing can knock us down that we can’t get up again. Nothing.
Now, I want to say, I know the holidays can be hard. Really hard! Christmas is just 3 days away. Maybe you’re missing your loved one around the dinner table, and you’re grieving all the traditions that have been interrupted. It’s hard. So many things can make it difficult to be happy this time of year. But joy…your joy cannot be removed. And it can grow to overflowing in your soul and spirit.
But friend it’s up to you. One thing I know for sure, our Creator God has a heart that is so tender towards those who are hurting, those who mourn, those who are orphans and widows. It is the heart of God to protect the weak and to show Himself strong for those that are oppressed. He delights in providing for the needy. Our God is a God that is present. He is alive and active…very real…in your life.
He is not a God that is far away, but is very near. Very present. He is a God at hand.
And He is longing for you to turn to Him. He is longing for you to come into His presence so that He can pour the oil of joy over you; to fill up your heart so much so that the things of this world begin to fade and dim in His love.
Will you, right now in faith, ask Him to do this very thing for you? To do the very thing He longs to do? To deeply plant that seed of joy into the core of your being that can never be removed? This begins the moment you say “yes” to His gift of eternal life. This is why He sent the gift of His son, THE Christmas gift - Jesus - that came to save us from sin and death. Born in a lowly manger and was crucified like a criminal, though He was perfectly innocent – sinless. Then raised to life again, He defeated death, so that we, too, may be resurrected to new life. To live with Him forever. He did all this for our freedom. And our freedom begins now – here on earth – where we have His supernatural help and power to thrive with joy in life today, no matter what our circumstances. And as you step into His presence now - and continue to step in His presence time and again - you will experience the fullness of that joy inside you. And watch it grow.
Friend, you have an opportunity to live a life better than happy. A life full of deep-seated joy everlasting.
I do pray that the joy of Jesus may be in you, and that your joy may be full this Christmas.