Each morning as the alarm sounds at 6.30 it does not to fill me with joy. I don’t know about you but it tends to bring out an uncontrollable desire within me to dive under the covers for at least another 30 seconds (which turns into 10 minutes). Yet the inevitability is that I need to get up and get on with the tasks of the day. And I’m guessing that you need to do this too. So how is it possible to experience joy in the everyday?
What is joy?
I suppose the first thing which we need to clarify is what do we mean by joy. For most it will be the emotional feeling of happiness. When we feel good we are joyful and all is well with the world. But is this the norm of our shared human experience? I don’t think so. Often it is the opposite. We are under pressure to complete work tasks, to balance family life, to conform to societal norms even when we don’t agree with them. For some of us we will be in the midst of experiencing great trauma as a result of difficulty, illness (both physical and mental) or bereavement. It may be that we are under heavy financial pressure and don’t know how we are going to make ends meet.
For this reason joy cannot be purely based on a feeling of niceness as this can change in an instant. This does not mean that the important component of emotional experience or expression does not exist. What it does mean is that this is not all that joy encompasses. Paul, in the midst of many difficulties, stated that he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10). To me this suggests that joy is something deeper, based on something greater than our present circumstances. Lets remember that Paul is writing to a group of people who have rejected him.
Joy has as its foundation the knowledge of the glory of God. This glory is expressly seen in his son, Jesus Christ, who has come to give himself as a ransom for our lives (Mark 10:45). In other words what Paul is speaking of here is a joy which comes directly from saving faith in Jesus. It is a contentment knowing that God has come to take our sin and has redeemed us to enjoy him here and for all eternity.
This world promises contentment with screeds of advertising we are forced to consume on a daily basis. It hints at contentment with the status updates and selfies which bombard social media. But we know that this is not the reality.
As we continue though the bustle of the day or the emotional trial of difficult situations we may not feel great. Indeed we might feel awful! But that does not need to be the end of the daily story. There is another way, the way of experiencing contentment in the ‘boring’ normalness or the stress of everyday life. However we often do not do it because it involves pro-activity on our part.
We must choose to believe who God is and what God has done; that he is the saviour for normal people who stumble and sin (1 Tim 1:15). This is the water that quenches our thirst in the midst of an ever changing present and an uncertain future. Every day we will be faced with that choice. Look at the example of Paul. As he is expending himself journeying around Europe, telling others about Jesus, he continually points himself to his saviour. He chooses to believe one more time, he chooses to trust even though everything else presents itself as a better option. He knows that true, lasting joy comes only from contentment in Jesus (1 Tim 6:6-7).
When the alarm goes for work remember he has come to redeem you. When the situation feels overwhelming, remember there is joy with Jesus the dependable saviour. When this worlds promises of contentment seems to be so real, remember lasting joy and contentment is found with the Christ.