“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:8-11
Jesus shared these words with his disciples at a very dark time in his life … as he was preparing to suffer on the cross for the sins of all. We are also told in James 1:2 to “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.” But practically speaking, how do we discover joy when times are tough?
Discovering joy has a lot to do with our attitude. And our attitude has a lot to do with what we choose to think about. We are challenged to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. One of the ways to work at taking your thoughts captive is to first acknowledge how you are feeling (angry, sad, frustrated, happy, encouraged, etc.). Generally, our feelings are an expression of what we have been thinking about. Then, after checking into what you are feeling, ask yourself what you have been thinking. As you practice this, you will become more aware of thoughts that might need to be challenged and changed to enable you to discover joy even in the midst of trials as well as continuing to practice joy in good times.
Do you need help in new ways to think? Philippians 4:4 & 8 provides guidance: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I will say it again: Rejoice! …Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Judi Brandow, Communication Specialist