Is it just me or are those depressing, depression commercials appearing more frequently than normal? It seems like you can hardly turn on the TV without seeing one. What does it take to find joy in our world? The current economy, wars and rumors of wars, interpersonal conflicts, the mundane routine of work and life and so much more seems to daily pull us down from our perch of peace and joy.
I believe Christ meant for us to live (in Him) with great joy. The Bible backs this theory up when Paul proclaims six times in his letter to the Philippians: Rejoice! God not only commands us to live holy, pure lives, set apart from the world ... He also commands us to live with His joy and peace. Be happy in your life. God wants this for you.
Here are a few secrets that helps me rediscover joy in the midst of pain, mundane, routine and trials:
1. Don't Worry About Tomorrow - Develop a laser-focus on today. Give all your energy towards hard work and deep contentment today. Tomorrow has enough worries of it's own. Yesterday is gone and is only good for a lesson or two.
2. Count Your Blessings - Seriously, make a list. Put "Life's Blessings" at the top and begin to list them one by one. Nothing is too small to write down and say a quick thank you to God for each. Think through the things most of us take for granted.
3. Soak in God's Presence - Turn on some powerful worship music, crack open the Word of God and set aside a few hours to wait on and love on God. Nothing beats this. Nothing.
4. Sit in the Sun - It's a scientific fact that we need a certain amount of sun or we will feel naturally depressed. Do some of your normal duties in the sun and get a natural pick-me-up.
5. Repent of All Known Sin - Life is too short to carry the burden of unconfessed sin. Take a few moments and write down or vocally express your confession of sin to the Lord in prayer. Be descriptive and thorough and ask God to forgive you in Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross. You may feel a literal sense of a burden being lifted from your heart.
6. Forgive Everyone That Has Hurt You - God commands that we forgive all those that have hurt us, or heaven will be unable to forgive our sins. Think through your past. Bring up even the most painful memories. Let go and let God. Vocally express your forgiveness as if the person is in front of you. Forgiveness is a process, but like salvation it begins with a choice.
7. Recognize God's Love Over You - Read through the Scriptures on God's love for us. Remember how great God's love is that he would not hold anything back for us, even what was most important to his heart, his only Son, Jesus Christ.
8. Give Stuff Away - Something happens when we give our possessions away. Giving is one of the most incredible feelings available. Slim down your wardrobe, give away your favorite shoes or jacket to someone who needs it more than you do.
9. Find a Place to Serve - Go to a local food shelf, ask your church if you can volunteer, pick up garbage along a highway near your house or ask to mow a neighbor's lawn. It's addicting to serve.
10. Rejoice in Eternity - No matter what you face in life, if you are in Christ heaven awaits you upon death. A place of perfect bliss beyond any imagination. Your highest expectations cannot touch the glories you will encounter in heaven. Thinking about that place and time revives your endurance here on earth.
11. Rest - Sleep an extra hour. Take a day off from work. Sabbath rest is a God idea. Take time to do the things you love and be with the people you love. This is the spice of life.
12. Rediscover Your Purpose - maybe your purpose and calling from God has been buried by the routine and demands of life. Re-think through the times God has spoken to you. Dust off your purpose and find a place to bring it to fulfillment. Life's too short to wait any longer.
13. Go on a Vacation - Turn off your phone. Don't check your email. Sit in the sun. Read a book for fun. Eat heartily and enjoy the beauty of God's creation.
14. Eat Healthier - Drink more water. Watch your caffeine intake. Eat healthy and simply. This affects your attitude and mental capacity. Exercise and run to improve your joy.
How about you? What else brings you great joy?