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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Reed

Growing Joy

This last week was busy. I found myself really tired, rushing from one thing to the next, trying to keep up with some sort of schedule for school, work, laundry, making dinner, keeping the house (somewhat) clean, making sure the bills were all accounted for, laundry, running errands, oh- did I mention laundry?

I was getting to the end of the week, and I felt drained. Drained physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My time with God and my Bible reading had been short (at best!), and I was feeling guilty, depressed, and frustrated. I knew I needed to get myself out of bed earlier, but I wasn't even pushing snooze- I was sleeping right through it! Then, I was rushing around all day, getting impatient with myself and the kids. "Okay, God." I found myself saying. "I need some help here. Where have I gone wrong that I have so easily strayed from finding joy in you?"

Friday afternoon, I was cleaning up the kitchen and mopping the floors while the kids had "rest time". I turned on my phone to listen to something from the Word of God. I saw a video clip about joy. I clicked on it. John Piper was answering a question about how to maintain joy in your relationship with God. And, wow. What a blessing to me! In this clip, Piper shares his own personal struggle to not just be memorizing, reading, and struggling to "keep up Christian appearances", but to really have joy all day, every day.

Now, certainly as Christians, we experience all kinds of emotions and frustrations during our days. But, the idea of joy is not just being happy all the time or having my act together at all times. No. The idea behind joy is having a comfort in knowing that what God promises to you from his word is readily, constantly, abundantly available for you.

So, in the days of busyness and stress and overwhelming circumstances, God is my joy because he has promised he will be with me. He has promised to sustain me. He has promised to listen to me. To comfort me. To strengthen me. Establish me.

He has promised to readily forgive when I sin. He has promised to give me power to overcome the temptations Satan puts before me. He has promised me heaven. Glory. Fulfillment. Satisfaction.

So, what's the key here? I can know all these things, but how can I be living them, increasing in them, and finding joy in them?

God has promised to give us all the things we need to live a godly life. How? Through knowing him. And, knowing him involves so much more than reading verses. Or listening to music. Or podcasts. Those things are good and helpful, but I have personally found that knowing God involves more. It involves communication with him. Confession of sin. Asking for help (constantly!). It requires conscious dedication to bringing into my mind the word of God. And, as I have increased in my awareness of my frailty and inadequacy before him, of the terrible pull of my sinful flesh to seek satisfaction in other worldly things, he has increased in his comfort, power, and forgiveness. I have greater understanding of what it means for him to be my forgiver. I have greater understanding of what it means for him to be my sustainer. My comfort. My peace. My deliverer.

So, at the end of this busy week, I found myself thanking God for his word. I found myself asking God to forgive me for my impatience, my indifference, my "do-it-myself" attitude, my frustrations and short-temper. I asked him to help me be more conscious and disciplined to not just "read my Bible" or listen "real quickly" to something spiritual, but to squeeze as much truth as I can from his word to take with me into the school schedule, the work schedule, the laundry schedule, the cleaning schedules. the bill-paying, the mom schedule, the errand-running schedule.... and in this, I find joy. In HIM, I find joy. Not in getting things "done" or managing to "get through the day", but taking his truth and deliberately meditating on it all day.

Certainly, this does not mean I cannot focus on anything else. But, what this does mean, is that in each busy thing of my day, I am consciously aware of God being with me. I am aware of his word and the truth I am clinging to for the day. And, even in the unexpected things that happen (spills, fights, breaking appliances, "oops! I forgot to switch the laundry", "what's for dinner panic", and so much more), I can reach out for that truth and cling to it, knowing God has brought it to me for those moments-and every moment.

Now, into this week, I am taking the truths I know about God, and asking him to enlarge that knowledge by consciously meditating on him as I do my daily tasks. I deliberately make myself aware of the desires of my flesh and ask him to presently make aware specific truth from his word to fight against the schemes and lies of the devil. And, when I sin, I will ask forgiveness (instead of making excuses!), and I will thank him for his comfort, his word, his power. And, in that, I find his joy. Joy not in being perfect or having it all together, but joy in knowing he is with me. He will help me. He will never leave me without comfort or truth. I can run to him at all times. And, in those times, I find joy. My joy grows. Not because my circumstances are fine or I am "fine", but because my God is greater than "fine". He is infinitely, amazingly, wondrously good. His character is more that I will ever comprehend, and in that finite knowledge, I find joy. Joy that he grieves with me. Joy that he understands my struggles. Joy that he sustains me. Joy that he never changes. Joy that his word has the answers for my ever-searching heart. Joy that HE IS MY GOD and I am his CHILD.

What things are you facing this week? Is your heart troubled? Are you "lacking joy"? Struggling to find peace? Are you overwhelmed as you face another busy week? God understands. God loves you. And he promises to grant you everything you need to live this week with power, hope, love, joy, and so much more. How? Because he is more. He is truth. He is joy. Cling to him this week. Meditate on his word. Take the truths you think you know and squeeze all you can from them. His word is more than enough for you- today, tomorrow, and for eternity. I am praying for you!

I have included the link to the question John Piper answered; I hope it is an encouragement to you! (I have listened to it several times already!)

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