I’ve been doing my gratitude challenge for a while now. Nothing much to it. Just intentionally noting down stuff I’m grateful for every other day. It makes a world of difference when it comes to giving God Honest Worship.
Lately though, I’ve noticed I’m thanking God a lot for people who’ve made me laugh. Thanking Him for moments of belly laughter. Over big stuff. About silly things. A joy bubbling over from a place deep within.
The random cabbie with storytelling skills for days. The silly jokes cracked at the office. The hilarious wisps of conversation caught in the streets. (Side note: I need to travel more and find out if it’s just Kenyans who seem to be genetically inclined to hilarity)
Joy is powerful because it chooses to believe life is worth living. It chooses to believe the steady whisper of God within you over the chaotic heckles of the world around you.
Joy is a choice.
Happiness isn’t listed as part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit; joy is. They’re both products. But of very different things.
Happiness is instantly delivered by whatever circumstances we’re in. It’s a reaction to what’s in front of us at that point in time. If we rely on our circumstances to give us happiness then we render ourselves effectively at their mercy.
Joy, on the other hand, is fruit. Fruit doesn’t spring out of thin air. It starts with a seed. Someone has to plant that seed and tend to it patiently till it reaches maturity – till it bears fruit (and seeds). And the process begins all over again. Project Farming, anyone?
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one,
Count your blessings,
See what God has done…
– Sunday School chorus from the hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr.
The thing about counting your blessings – figuratively or literally as I’ve been doing – is that you quickly realize they far outweigh anything that may not be working out as you’d like it to.
When I count my blessings, I’m gathering my seeds of joy, one by one. Gathering every big and small testament of God’s goodness and planting it in my heart.
When I count my blessings, I’m reminding myself what God has done. Who He has been. I am tending to the seeds in my heart. Pouring the water of His word and the letting the sunny rays of His goodness in. Pruning away any pesky weeds of doubt and fear that want to strangle my joy seedlings.
When I count my blessings, I’m turning my focus back to where it belongs – on Jesus. I’m inviting the Holy Spirit in His incredible power and glory to take charge of my heart’s environment. To make it conducive for the fruit of joy to be produced.
You can’t grow joy alone. It’s a beautiful partnership between us and one of the biggest gifts Jesus left us – the Holy Spirit. Happiness is fleeting because it’s a product of this world. Joy is eternal just like its Maker.
Counting blessings isn’t turning a blind eye to all that is wrong. Quite the opposite actually. Worship acknowledges a God who has worked things out for good in the past. A God who, by the power and evidence of that past testimony, is more than able to work out the present for good again…and again…and again…
Worship says He that is in me is greater than he who is in the world around me. And the more you choose to focus on what’s working out, the less power your circumstances have on you. The more reign you allow God to have over your life.
I started this post with frivolous but oh-so-wonderfully-important examples of moments of joy and happiness. But getting to this end has been a journey in itself. Sometimes joy will be as easy as people in your life who gladly feed you with their joy. Not expecting anything in return. But as Christians, we need to produce joy not just consume it. That’s part of why we’re here. To be salt and light to the world.
And when you think about it, joy really is much-needed seasoning to the ever-changing seasons of life.