Reclaiming Joy

WHERE DID JOY GO?

Most Americans and American families are finding themselves anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. The days of going to a movie, eating in a restaurant, or going to the ballpark for a game seem to have passed away. The reality of a global pandemic has settled in, and the dark cloud of gloom seems to continually hover over us. If it isn’t a pandemic, it is racial or political unrest. If it isn’t unrest, it is a family crisis. If it isn’t a family crisis, it is something on the horizon. The past few months have taught us a lot about our faith. If you are like me, you miss Sunday school, fellowship opportunities, attending worship without a mask, giving out hugs, and many other things we use to take for granted. These were simple things at the core of who we were. While we are managing and coping in the new reality we find ourselves in, it still feels like something is missing…JOY! The spark, the excitement, the longing for the next day, the next opportunity to serve, the passion, and fire burning within us seems to have died down into a small ember, a fading star, or lackluster diamond. The joy we once experienced with each new morning is tragically disappearing as the world continues to unfold around us. 

Time Out #1:

  1. What were some things that used to give you great joy that have been taken away?
  2. What has been the most difficult thing your family has faced this year?
  3. If you were to compare your level of joy now to your level of joy at this time last year, has it increased or decreased? How or Why?

WHAT IS JOY?

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Joy is one of those difficult words to define. Is it a feeling? Is it a state we bounce in and out of? Is it a part of our being? The Bible seems to discuss joy and rejoicing quite often. However, I find it interesting that the majority of times the word “joy” or “rejoice” is used in the Bible, the word “trials” is often nearby. Read Romans 12:12; Hebrews 12:2; James 1:2–8; 1 Peter 1:3–7; 4:12–16. These five passages share a common thread, joy continues in the face of suffering and pain. If joy can continue in such difficult life circumstances, as well as, good life circumstances, it must be based on the everlasting, not the temporary. What is joy? God is joy! His love, grace, holiness, standard of living, hope, and peace all supply our heart with true joy in the face of the good and the bad.

Time Out #2:

  1. How is joy different from happiness?
  2. How can someone be unhappy in a moment but still be joyful?
  3. What do the five passages teach us about joy? Create a list as a family!
  4. Create a working definition of joy to use as a family. Write it down and keep it visible in your home.

RECLAIMING JOY

There’s obviously tension in the air: worldly joy verses godly joy. There’s a battle for our heart, and we must make a decision. The joy of the world will continue to leave us helpless and hopeless, while the joy of the Lord will leave us full in helpless and hopeless situations. Read Philippians 4:4–7. 

Over the course of seven devotionals, we are going to venture on a journey of reclaiming joy in our lives. These devotionals will provide practical steps to reclaiming our joy in order to R.E.J.O.I.C.E. in all things once again. Keep your family’s definition of joy from this devotional visible in your home during the course of this study and seek the joy of the Lord with us!

Application Questions:

  1. How can we reduce or remove anxiety from our lives?
  2. In a world of unknowns, how does knowing God provide peace and joy?
  3. What are some ways you and your family could pray for God to work in your hearts as you begin this journey of reclaiming joy? 

Prayer Starter:

Father, this has been a difficult year with many ups and downs. The routines we found ourselves comfortable in have been removed and the new normal we live in changes so often. Thank you for waking us up and renewing our focus. We ask that you be with our hearts and minds as we battle against the views of the world, and help us to place all of our trust in you. Lead us to a deeper joy and trust in you! We pray these things in the name of Jesus. 

 

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