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I watched as the teaching teen duo pulled their prop to the center of the dirt floor. All eyes in the room stared intently at the paper and plastic boat, clearly constructed from recycled materials. One of the beautiful girls held her notes in her hand and she cleared her voice. Mostly looking at her notes, she outlined the construction of the well-known ark and described the story of Noah’s obedience to God. Her dark eyes glanced up now and then, and shyly she pointed to her story-telling cohort when her turn had ended. I caught her looking at me across the room at that very moment so I smiled and gave her a thumbs up. Obviously this signal contains no language barrier and her gorgeous smile beamed when she realized I was acknowledging her hard work. Teaching the younger children was her service. In spite of the rags she wore as clothing and the probable growling in her stomach, she was more than happy. She radiated with joy.
Where does one find joy?
If you stood on a street corner and asked those passing by, not one would be able to point north, south, east or west and offer directions to finding joy. And if you googled, “find joy,” the results would most likely not provide what you are searching for. You could ask Siri where to find joy, but I doubt her directions would lead you to the solution you’re seeking.
If discovering true joy is so simple, then why do none of the above typical answers provide a solid answer? Joy can seem to be elusive in everyday life and finding joy in the midst of difficulties and struggles is even more challenging. What if I told you that there are 4 simple discoveries for more joy in your life? These simple discoveries are the ones I’ve stumbled across as I’ve walked over the rough terrain of life’s journey.
1. Give thanks as much and as often as you possibly can.
Many of us understand the power of having a grateful spirit. We often see the benefits of giving thanks through an immediate perspective change. But overlooking the long-term benefit of giving thanks frequently is easy to do. When we embrace being thankful as a daily discipline, then as challenging circumstances arise, we are empowered in the practice of choosing to give thanks. If we are accustomed to looking for the positive each day, then on the hard days, our habit of seeking the good will kick in.
2. Keep a tangible record of being thankful.
Whether it is the digital notes in your mobile device or an app or a paper journal, keeping a record of being thankful is critical. Not only does it help you develop the discipline we mentioned above, but you are creating a legacy to look back on.
Make a memorial when God meets you miraculously.
Making a memorial provides joy right in the moment, but it also serves as battle preparation. When you’re in the middle of a fight and you need refreshment, pausing to look back at the memory of where God met you in his strength is going to fuel you forward.
3. Reflect on the past for glimpses of God’s work.
If you haven’t been in the habit of keeping a tangible record of thanks and you find yourself overwhelmed with the tough circumstances, looking back at how God delivered you in the past is one simple way of finding joy in the moment. I often think about an answered prayer or a changed situation and I realize God’s wonderful work in my life. The memory of what he has done provides hope for the moment, as well as for the future.
When I was pregnant for the fifth time, I worried about affording diapers. I gave the worry over to God many times before giving birth. The week before my daughter was born, God provided diapers in miraculous ways. In fact, we didn’t buy diapers for Tarah until she was fifteen months old. I’ve looked back on his incredible provision dozens of times and thought, “If he cares enough to provide diapers, then I feel confident he cares about ___________________.”
4. Verbalize joy in anticipating God’s plan and serve where God has placed you.
While my spiritual eyesight is often nearsighted, I can tell God how much I love and trust him. Sometimes it’s a simple statement of admission: “God, I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do, because I know it’s going to be good for me and glory for you.”
When I start praising the Lord for who he is, then my heart is saturated with the desire to serve others. And even in those dark times of tunnel vision, when I open myself to do something for someone else, even the smallest of everyday tasks, then joy shows up. She doesn’t have one location or address. She doesn’t have certain standards of position or location. Joy can be found in strange places. Joy loves the presence of a serving heart.
This is the very reason for my impoverished teen friend’s smile as she crafted an upcycled ark and told the story of God’s provision while trusting him for her own.
Where have you discovered joy?
Rachel “Wojo” Wojnarowski is a dynamic author, speaker and Bible study teacher. Wojo’s family is comprised of seven children, whose ages span four to 24 years and includes a special needs daughter. For more thoughts on discovering joy and strength in the midst of trials, you’ll enjoy Rachel Wojo’s new release, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up. Rachel is also offering 5 FREE daily devotional emails for discovering true strength.
Publication date: November 24, 2015