“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognise how good things really are.”
The idea of the divine life—the saved life—is adherence to truth. That is, the more we broaden our sight and, therefore, adhere to truth the more joy is available to us. This is just as much about remembering, forgetting, looking up, and looking around.
1. Remembering What God Has Already Done
Two millennia ago the most important event in history happened. That we are now reconnected with God should elicit much joy. Despite our circumstances and the toughness of life, we have great hope both here and in eternity.
We can remember that we were once slaves to tyrants. Now we are slaves to the Most High God. But as slaves of the Lord, we are also heirs.
We can remember that we have been delivered. At the recognition of our Saviour and the work of salvation we accepted our deliverance and chose for our redemption.
Lastly, we can remember our Deliverer. Jesus is the one we live for. When we live for the Lord, life goes never better.
When we remember these things we have real cause for joy.
2. Forgetting Our Sin, Shame and Successes
Whilst it is imperative that we remember what God has done for us—that we are new creations—it’s also critical we forget certain things.
We forget the condemnation of our past sin, so we are no longer trapped in our guilt and shame. This doesn’t mean we deny being sinners, because that fact won’t change until eternity. We also need to forget our successes, because wherever we languish there we get lazy and prideful. Such a joy as ‘success’ is short-lived.
But real joy is founded upon the ability to quickly forget unhelpful components of the past.
3. Looking up At the Grandeur of God
The moment we take a serious look into the heavens on a clear night, seeing the stars, noting the unparalleled wonder of the universe, we take in whatever we can of the grandeur of God.
God is no predictable or ordinary Creator. The more we look up to redeem the presence of the Lord, the more unbridled joy we can experience.
4. Looking around at Our Circle of Friends
Then we come to the world. Despite the worldliness of the world, there is much that brightens our spiritual gait. Nothing should inspire human joy, at a lived level, more than friendly, kind, and caring human relationships.
It is clear God designed humanity to cohabit at peace. When we can create social circles that are supportive and enjoyable we experience quite an unparalleled sense of joy. Friendship truly is one of the greatest blessings in living this life.
We can experience joy in this life simply because there is much to be joyful about. With a perspective aligned to enjoy the many blessings, our joy is increased. God has designed joy to be limitless. We simply need to open our eyes to see it.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Ellen Vaughn, Radical Gratitude: Discovering Joy Through Everyday Thankfulness (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005).