It seems as though life constantly reminds us of our difficulties, heartaches, and challenges. It’s easy to let it all impact us in a negative way and end up overwhelmed by anxiety and stress. I was talking to a friend who was so discouraged about a troubling family matter that I could see her own health was at risk. I was reminded that when God brought the Israelites out from their oppressive captivity in Babylon, He promised they would “go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:12). So I encouraged my friend that if we’re going to come out of dark places like she was in, if we’re going to stand under the trials of life, we have to come out with joy and walk in peace. We have to use joy to deliver us from anxious thoughts, defeat, and discouragement. Joy is the key, and it’s inside us.
Have troubles got you a bit down today? Has life pushed your joy down? The key to staying strong in God is through partaking in His joy every day. When Nehemiah was encouraging the people under extremely difficult circumstances in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, he said, “Celebrate with a feast…for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). He knew that only the joy of the Lord could help them overcome their discouragement and anxieties over hardships, setbacks, and enemy threats.
The beauty of the joy that Jesus gives us is that it is not dependent on what is going on around us. Jesus prayed that His joy would “remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). His joy is in us. When you said yes to Jesus, nothing changed on the outside, but He gave you a new heart inside and filled it with His joy. He’s saying, “I’ve given you exactly what you need to defeat the power of the enemy and stay strong in this life.”
His joy is inside you, but you must cultivate it. It’s a bit like my lemon tree. When I planted it, there were no lemons on it. But I made sure the soil was right, and I watered it and fed it nutrients. I cultivated it, and eventually the lemons that were in the tree came out for me to use. In a similar way, you have to tap into God’s joy. You have to develop it and practice it. The apostle Paul said it this way: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). To rejoice means “to brighten.”
There’s a light of Jesus’ joy inside you. You just have to turn it on.