Having True Joy in Your Life

Kamala Harris advocated this week for the legalization of marijuana, saying “It gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.” I agree that most people have a need for more true joy in their lives. However, lasting joy does not come from the use of chemical substances. Ms. Harris is calling for people to temporarily ‘feel better’ by using marijuana and other substances to masks their problems.

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Dictionary.com defines joy as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” I have never smoked marijuana or consumed alcohol, yet I experience true joy in my life every day. I experience joy as I am enveloped in the love of my family, enjoy the fellowship of friends, bless others through ministry and giving, and contribute to society by working diligently at my job. More importantly, I experience true joy from the assurance that God has forgiven my sins and I am his child. These are things that are exceptionally good and satisfying.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that joy comes from abiding in Him. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 10- 12.

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that speak about joy. These are just a few of them:

  1. Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
  2. Psalm 21:1 “The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
  3. Psalm 32: 10 -11, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:26, “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight.”
  5. Romans 15:15, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

If you are searching for true joy in your life, I encourage you to seek it from God. God is our only source for forgiveness and salvation. We need to have fellowship with God in order to experience true joy in our lives. Don’t fall into the trap of using substances as a substitute for having real joy in your life.

Overcoming Despair

There has been much talk in the media about depression and suicide over the past few weeks. The shock of Robin William’s self-inflicted death has spurred this conversation. Looking from the outside, Robin seemed to have everything that most of us aspire to in life–career success, financial security, and a loving family. We have a difficult time accepting that this man who had brought us so much joy and laughter was not laughing along with us. Depression is a serious condition and far too many people struggle to overcome it.

Most people will never face know the depth of depression that would lead them to consider ending their lives. However, we all experience seasons of sadness and despair. These periods may result from the death of a loved one, illness, failure of a marriage or relationship, loss of employment, or any of a number of other causes. Some times it is difficult to accept our loss and move forward with live. Embed from Getty Images

Recently a number of pressures have weighed heavily on me. I found myself thinking constantly about these pressures. I wasn’t worried about them–I recognized that there was nothing I could do about these situations except to pray. Yet, I had a difficult time letting go and enjoying life. The refrain of the old Peter, Paul, and Mary song Old Coat rang in my head frequently. It goes “Take off your old coat and roll up your sleeves, Life is a hard road to travel, I believe.”

Life is often difficult. None of us will escape hard times. Many of us recall that Jesus himself told his disciples, “In this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) However, that is only a portion of the verse. The complete verse reads, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The key to having true peace and joy in life is to remember that Jesus has overcome the world. When we fix our eyes upon Jesus instead of focusing on our problem, we can “be of good cheer.” Today another chorus has been my anthem. It is from the old hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. The chorus says,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

If you are struggling with sadness and despair, I urge you to fix your eyes on Jesus. In Him you will find true peace and hope.
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