As I write about joy boosters and using your Instagram as an instrument of peace, I hope it resonated with many. Still, I know there will still be a few thinking, ‘Yeah, right, Easy for you.’ And, I bet that’s the clean version.
True. Protecting your joy sounds simple on paper (or online rather). In real life, it’s much more complicated. What do we do when joy is nowhere to be found? You can’t even access it to protect it. The night season of grief, loss, debt, or some other terrible storm of life has clouded your joy and given you only despair and heartache.
Let me acknowledge something up front. Life is hard. I don’t mean that in a trite or dismissive way. It’s the truth. The Son of God said that difficult times are inevitable (John 16:33). Even with the promise that we will overcome, that can sometimes do little to light the momentary darkness.
So, what do we do? How do we have joy in the dark?
Dr. Crista Gambrell, an author, wellness expert, and contributing writer for Praise.com, agrees that, despite our circumstances, joy remains a part of our spiritual legacy as Christians. She advises that we begin our search for the ‘joy within’ in practical steps.
First, we link up with the Lord. “When there is intentional time with God (in prayer, worship, or quiet contemplation), He gifts us with a higher perspective and imparts promises that there is more to this life than the struggles before us,” she says.
Next, we adopt a mindset of thankfulness. She adds, “We cultivate joy when we practice gratitude. The happiest people I know are the ones who find the smallest things to celebrate — a sunny day, a cute dog, a good cup of coffee.”
When troubles crowd our ability to see those little parts of our day that deserve a smile, we also can rely on friends and family to point out the good. “People with an abundance of joy also have deep, soulful connections to others,” Dr. Gambrell notes. “Never underestimate the role of social support in mental health.”
The last way we can find joy is the most difficult, but perhaps the most important.
There’s a great song by Hillsong United called “Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)” that cuts to the core of what it looks like to give God praise in the midst of struggle. Part of the chorus says, “Even when it makes no sense to sing louder then I’ll sing your praise.” It’s counterintuitive. Nothing inside of you will want to do this, but God knows and still urges us to muster up the gift of praise. He does so because He knows how devastating it is to the darkness.
Praise looks different depending on who you are. If you sing, sing. If you dance, dance. If you love others, serve them well. Sit in silence and meditation if that is all you can do. Find an activity that reflects God’s goodness and make it a practice. Your feelings may or may not align, but your mind and heart will begin to shift towards the light.
As I conclude this Joy series, I pray for you all who read this. May you find happiness even in the darkest days. May you operate every day, whether you’re online or in real life, as a producer of peace. Lastly, may you keep your joy as a precious treasure, yet share it generously.