The Art of Finding Joy

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” ~ Nehemiah 8:10

If you knew today were going to be your last day on earth, what would you be focused on? Would you want to spend it focused on what is important to you today? Surely you would not be worried about what might happen tomorrow - unless that concern was for those closest to you and their welfare - and even then, could your concern change their tomorrow? I am pretty sure I’d have that larger (or second) helping of ice cream I normally deny myself, and I would be more likely to live that last day with abandon, surrounded by loved ones, instead of worrying about what anyone would think of me.

One day recently I realized I just felt…happy! It was such a surprise that I almost felt guilty, and started to think about what I must have forgotten that needed worrying over. I had to laugh at myself because there were still sad things to pray for, people I love who had problems, and plenty of things to worry about, but I suddenly felt set apart and free of those things. I happily found myself in a season of joy…a rare blessing for a planner and worrier like me! It was such a different mindset! As I prayed and thanked God for that rare blessing, I distinctly heard Him tell me to enjoy this season of joy as His precious gift to me. What a liberating realization…that God’s joy is His gift, readily available to all of us, but we seldom recognize it or receive it because we are so focused on the troubles of today and the “what-ifs” of tomorrow. As in every season, there is a reason, so I looked for the purpose in this and realized this blessing is God’s way of showing me another facet of His goodness, love, mercy and grace. Going forward, I plan to apply myself more diligently to learning the art of finding joy in the moment: a pleasant conversation, joyful fellowship with family and friends, loving those close to me and experiencing the joy of their love in return. And I plan to begin taking every opportunity to quietly reflect on God's beauty and grace...noticing the glory of a sunrise, small kindnesses from others, the love in my puppy's eyes, and the many blessings God gives me every day, Today I will stop and smell the roses to find the joy He is offering me in this day.

Lesson Learned: Focus on the Giver of all good things, and let His joy transform your mind. If you look for things to worry about, they will occupy your mind. If you look for His blessings, joy will follow!

Prayer: Father, thank you so much for the precious gift of this season of joy you have given me. Thank you for showing me that all I really have to do is keep my eyes focused on You, and the importance of everything else dims in comparison to the glory of your presence, your provision and your overwhelming love. When troubles come again, help me to keep my eyes on You, the author of my life and the perfecter of my faith. Help me keep my mind focused on the fact that You are able - and willing - to handle anything that happens in my life if I will just release it to You. I know that maintaining an attitude of gratitude really will make all the difference. Thank you, Father, for Your infinite love, mercy and grace, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Additional Scriptures:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

“For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” Deuteronomy 16:15

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.” 1 Chronicles 16:27

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

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