The ball bounced against the blacktop about four or five times as I stared at the hoop. Then, finally, my breathing slowed, which allowed me to focus on the task. I was only 5’9 at the time, but I had hops. Before I knew it, my eyes were closer to the rim, and the ball flushed through the net. The elation from dunking the first time never equaled the others.
That’s how I used to describe joy, but there was a moment in the winter of 1997 when time slowed down long enough for me to witness pure joy. I strapped my niece into her car seat. She was less than 2 months old, and my sister had trusted me, an 18-year-old senior, with her care. I reached the nursing home, carried the delicate bundle inside, and watched as my sister gently placed my niece into my mother’s arms for the first time.
What comes to mind when you think of the word joy?
In last week’s LIO podcast, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “Joy is living from the place that my life is worth living.” Even when you feel empty, there is something so wonderful that can breathe new life into you. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, God can provide you the necessary strength to keep going.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
Theologian Dallas Willard defines joy as a pervasive sense of well-being. We are invited to not just rejoice but rejoice in the Lord—to have a pervasive sense of well-being because the God of scripture, Father of Jesus, is watching over us.
I think back to my mother holding my niece for the first time. She experienced everything in such a small moment. She figured out a way to work through the hard times because she found her strength in God. The joy she experienced that day was because she knew life was worth living.
Where do you find joy? Are you empty if your joy comes from things?
Find a way to work through the hardships in life. Seek counseling, pray, and live life with other Christians to keep you moving in the right direction. Watch last week’s LIO Podcast to gain more understanding about joy.
God, thank you for each new day. The fact that I’m here is a reason to experience everything to the fullest. I pray for those who feel like life is too much to handle. Let them see that you already know that life is too difficult to do it on their own. Finding our strength in you provides encouragement and allows us to experience a joy greater than any material thing can provide. Amen.
This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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