Happiness. That word sometimes feels like a dangling carrot, doesn’t it? We all want it. Marketing is driven by telling us how to buy it. Media is driven by telling us how to look like it. Anyone who has ever lamented with John Mayer singing his song “Something’s Missing” can tell you that our temporary fixes are not working.
Is lasting happiness even real? Or is it just another elusive fairytale that teases us from time to time and then slips away again?
Fleeting happiness is rooted in experiences and favorable circumstances—a mood based on external factors. But lasting, sustainable happiness—what the Bible calls “joy” is an internal state of being that is unaffected by that which is external. That kind of happiness—-joy—can only come when our roots are planted in the right soil of unchanging truth and a perfect King.
Just like trees must have roots buried deep in healthy, nutrient-rich soil, we need to be connected to our life source, tending to the care of our hearts, to experience the vibrant life God has designed us to live. That vibrancy will only be found in a relationship with Him. Throughout the Bible, we see that God didn’t just create us and then leave us to let us be on our own. He created us to know Him and to sustain us in a loving relationship with Himself.
This Christmas, as we sing “Joy to the World, let earth receive her King,” here are a few ways to allow joy to infiltrate your life:
1. Acknowledge your need for joy. Acknowledge where it’s missing.
The first step to cultivating joy is acknowledging where it already exists and where it may be lacking. Open up the conversation with God. Confess your need for the joy He offers through His son Jesus. We must admit and acknowledge our genuine need and that we too often look to fill it with the wrong things.
2. Be Intentional About Cultivating A Deep Relationship With Jesus.
Like dating, simply saying “Hello,” to someone isn’t enough to cultivate a deep, meaningful relationship. It takes time and intentional effort to really know someone. It’s like that with Jesus. Knowing Jesus does not stop at the introduction. Take time daily to open your Bible and slowly read the words that God has spoken to us. Put it to the test; God’s Word is alive and active, and when we encounter His presence, we can’t help but be changed.
If studying the Bible is new to you, it’s normal to feel a bit daunting and unfamiliar. I recommend starting with the book of John or the book of Romans and reading one chapter a day, slowly and with curiosity.
3. Get connected with other people
Find and cultivate community among other Christ-followers. I cannot stress the importance of living life in community, whether through plugging into a church or a local Bible study; we are sharpened in our relationships with others. A rich joy is found when you know you are known and not alone.
4. Keep track of God’s track record
Keep a journal of some kind. No matter where you are in your journey, your life will not suddenly be perfect when you turn to Jesus. There will still be hard days, and there will be days when you wonder if it’s worth it. I have huge storage bins full of journals I have kept over the last 20 years I have walked with Jesus. When I feel discouraged or full of doubt, I look over those journals and see God’s faithfulness throughout my life. It’s like an energy drink that reminds us that even when we can’t see, God is with us; he is for us, and not for a moment has He forsaken us. Re-reading the chronicles of how God has worked in my life can reinvigorate joy and hope in our lives time and time again.
This season, I pray you will pause each day to receive the joy of the King. Merry Christmas. Amen.