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7 Joy Zappers to Avoid

Carolyn Dale Newell

Carolyn Dale Newell

Contributing Writer
Published: Jul 22, 2022
7 Joy Zappers to Avoid

I often feel that I misplace my joy. Like my phone, it hides. Can you relate? Has your joy gone missing in action?

I waste so much time looking for something I’ve either misplaced or forgotten where I left it. Are you nodding your head in agreement? I am blind, and my phone can hide in plain sight, but until I feel it, I have no clue where I left it. I even bought these little ringers to put on my keys, purse, and remote control, but they don’t always perform well.

I often feel that I misplace my joy. Like my phone, it hides. Can you relate? Has your joy gone missing in action?

Let’s define joy. As a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), we cannot manufacture joy ourselves. Joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. That is happiness. We have confused joy with happiness. Biblical joy depends on Jesus and not our circumstances—something quite different than a worldly view of joy.

Now that we understand what joy looks like and we realize we can have joy without feeling it, let’s see what zaps our joy:

1. Too Much Flesh and Not Enough Spirit

Since the Spirit produces joy, we cannot expect to see the fruit of joy in our lives when we allow our flesh to rule. God doesn’t force us to live Spirit-filled lives, even though the Holy Spirit dwells within all Christians. He allows us to choose and make mistakes. 

A popular mistake we often make, whether young or old, includes letting our flesh reign. We can grieve the Holy Spirit when we allow our emotions to rule us. When we fall into despair or fear, flesh rules. Instead, let’s step back and examine our thoughts, the root of all emotions.

Are our thoughts deceitful? Has the enemy planted something that has triggered an unhealthy response? Take those thoughts captive and remove them from your mind. Allow the truth of God’s Word to infiltrate your mind.

Elijah became so depressed that he begged God to take his life. He began believing lies. He felt alone until God informed him that He had seven thousand men like Elijah in Israel (1 Kings 19:14-18). Elijah’s despair plummeted him into a pity party. This great prophet had lost his joy to his flesh.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17 NIV)

Look at the above verse. Where does joy come from? How can you give the Spirit control over your life?

2. Lack of Intimacy

We can’t give the Holy Spirit full reign if we don’t spend quality time with all three members of the Godhead. Linger in your times of prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to you and teach you from the Bible as you read. When we ask with a longing to grow, He will show us marvelous truths from the Scriptures we have read many times before.

As I turned the calendar to July 2022, I realized that the last six months of this year will be busy marketing a new book. I asked God to give me wisdom because numerous marketing strategies jump off my computer screen shouting, “Try me!!”

God’s reply to me: establish an evening time for prayer. In the middle of my busy season, God wants to spend more time with me. I obediently began heading out to my quiet patio nightly after sunset, and I look forward to this time each evening. Best of all, God has given me wisdom that prevented me from spending money on some overpriced marketing options. He has also brought better options to my attention.

You might not market a book, but whatever you do, you will do it better when you surrender your time to God, giving Him the best parts of your day. He honors that.

We fill up on the Spirit as we spend precious time with God. We find joy in the presence of the Lord.

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

3. Trials

Nothing steals my joy quicker than a trial. Suddenly, you get an unexpected diagnosis from a routine doctor visit. Perhaps, soaring food and gas prices have overwhelmed you. A wayward child, a loss in the family, or a difficult relationship can zap our joy in a heartbeat. So, James gives us some direction in James 1:2-4 (NIV):

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

The Greek word for “consider” is an accounting term. Imagine a spreadsheet, and in column A, you have listed your trials. James wants us to write joy right next to each trial in column B. He didn’t tell us to rejoice over cancer, and he didn’t tell us to have warm, fuzzy feelings. James told us to consider it as a joyful trial because it will bring about good.

Look at Joseph in the book of Genesis. He endured trials for thirteen years before rising as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. Through the testing of his faith, he gained perseverance. He became complete, lacking nothing. Through false accusations and imprisonment, Joseph had God’s favor on him all along. Why? Joseph counted his trials as joy.

4. Unanswered Prayer

Do you grow weary, waiting for God to save that lost child or heal that debilitating disease? We all fall for that joy zapper from time to time. We must remind ourselves that Jesus is faithful, and His timetable looks quite different from ours.

Hours prior to His arrest, Jesus shared this with His disciples:

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24 NIV)

Jesus knew we would grow tired of waiting and praying. He knew we’d even stop asking at times. He knows us so well that He knew we’d refuse to pray for the little things, but He wants us to know that He always wants us to ask.

Sometimes we don’t have because we don’t ask (James 4:2). Never silence your prayers. Use the perseverance you gain through your trials and persevere in prayer.

5. Christian Unity and Fellowship

Throughout Paul’s epistles, his joy came from his times of fellowship with the brethren. We have gone through two years when we couldn’t attend church or social functions much of the time. We now see the effects this had on people, especially children, as anxiety increases across our nation.

As Christians, we need that comradery with people of faith. We can listen to sermons online, but it cannot replace the interaction with fellow believers. During some of the lockdowns, I became involved with Zoom Bible studies and groups of speakers and writers. 

Writing can become an isolated activity, but I have made unbelievable connections, and my life has been enriched, because I chose to connect with likeminded believers. Get involved as much as possible with your church or other activities where you can communicate face-to-face (even online) with others.

Paul said it best in his letter to the Philippians:

"Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." (Philippians 2:2 NIV)

6. Hopelessness

When the darkness of depression surrounded me, I lost all hope. At times, I didn’t even want to live. I shared some of the same thoughts that Elijah had during that desperate time mentioned above. Have you ever felt like giving up? 

Our hope is in Jesus Christ. Like the fruit of the Spirit, hope doesn’t come from our circumstances, but hope isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. Our hope rests in the gift of salvation Christ has given us. No matter how bad it gets here on earth, we still have an eternal life to look forward to.

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." (Psalm 126:5 NIV)

The tears that fall now water the fertile soil of future joy. When all hope seems lost, remember that as long as Jesus Christ sits on the throne, hope lives. When the devil steals our hope, he has succeeded in stealing our joy too. If you fall prey to these attacks, set up some reminders around your house, on your phone, or from a friend to keep hope alive.

7. Disobedience

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

David penned these words when he fell into sin. He slept with another man’s wife, and when she became pregnant, he arranged to have her husband killed. Psalm fifty-one is David’s plea for forgiveness. When we disobey our Lord, we have shut ourselves off from His blessings, including joy.

The only way to remedy this is to follow in David’s path by confessing your sin to God and turning away from it. Then joy will return.

Friend, I pray that something has triggered your aha moment, and you’ll be able to put your finger on the joy zappers in your life. I pray joy returns to you, and that your days without it will be few.

We travel through uncertainty, but one thing that always remains certain is Jesus Christ. In Him, we find joy.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ Blasius Erlinger

Carolyn Dale Newell headshot with dogChristian speaker and author Carolyn Dale Newell uplifts the hearts of readers with encouraging devotions on her website, A Mountain of Faith. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with her husband, Tim, and her guide dog and ministry partner, Iva. You can connect with Carolyn in her women’s ministry group on Facebook.

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