JOY KILLER #1:
Comparing Yourself With Others Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Social media demands we compare ourselves all day every day. Think about it for a moment. Someone posts a beautiful family portrait on Instagram and you immediately have a reaction. You may be one of the few who sincerely appreciates the photograph for what it is, but many others will compare their own family to that picture. Someone on Facebook shares a paragraph about what a great time they had on vacation and may share an album for friends and family to share that time with them, but feelings of jealousy, anger, and judgment rise up so quickly. We may wonder how they can afford such an elaborate vacation. We may be upset that we do not have any vacation plans in mind, or be jealous that our finances won't allow us to take a trip like that. How many likes do you get on a post? How many thumbs up on a video, or new subscribers is enough to feel happy? I have watched videos from YouTubers who have subscribers in the millions and at the end of the video they continue to ask for more subscribers, likes, shares, and comments. Is this where we find our validation?
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. Please read this carefully! When we measure ourselves against each other, and when we compare our stories, our lives, our families, our blessings, our homes, our jobs, our spouses, our children, the Bible says we are not wise! Let's outsmart the enemy! Let's compare ourselves to God. How do we line up? We are not God but we are to reflect God's image by the things we say and do.
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. We are human and we mess up, make mistakes, say and do things we regret. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and as a Christian, we are supposed to become more and more like Him as we continue this journey. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Read the Bible, reflect on what it says about your circumstances, your health, your family, yourself. This is how to become perfect like the Father. You will never be perfect until the day God calls you home and completes the work He is doing inside of you, but we must strive to be perfect and work toward becoming more like our Father every single moment.
JOY KILLER #2:
Discontentment This joy killer holds the hand of Joy Killer #1. Discontentment does not make us want to count our blessings; rather, discontentment makes us look at the things others have that we do not. There is a popular quote that says, "Happy people do not have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have." See the difference? A truly happy person may not own the nicest vehicle, but they will be thankful for the automobile they have that takes them and brings them. We are warned by Jesus in the Scriptures to be careful about doing this. Luke 12:15 And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Jesus tells us not to look around at the things others have and begin to think we are somehow lacking, because our lives are not valuable because of the things we own. It steals our joy when we see ourselves as lacking. The Apostle Paul says he knows what it's like to have things and what it's like to have to do without things, but the key to holding on to joy is contentment. Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Paul got it! He said just be content with whatever circumstance you are in, whatever trial you may be facing, whatever thing you think you are lacking. Then he adds the underscoring statement, that it is only possible to be this way through Jesus Christ as He gives us the strength to be content.
JOY KILLER #3:
Ungrateful For Blessings We live in the greatest country on earth. In America we have freedom that citizens in many other parts of the world do not. You would think that we would be a grateful nation, but it turns out, we have become the "spoiled brat" nation and God is not pleased. I am not saying every American is ungrateful, but I am saying that in our culture, the attitude of gratitude is often mocked and seldom practiced in our society. A few years ago I was on Facebook and participated in a Gratitude challenge. It was in November and for all 30 days we were to post about one thing we were grateful for. Many people joined in the challenge and it was beautiful, but then there were so many posts that month from others taunting and poking fun at those of us who shared our blessings online. Somehow when we were grateful, it offended those who weren't. As a family, we bow our heads before a meal, and often we hold hands. It's a quiet act, no big drama or display, but simply a moment to thank God for allowing us to be together as a family and enjoy that meal. We get looks from some on occasion and some pretty mean glares at times, too, which is so odd to me. Why wouldn't we want to see others expressing gratitude? Could it possibly be a mirror into their own life and they don't like the reflection?
Christians in this nation can change that. We have so many reasons to thank God for all He has done and given to us. When we are truly grateful, we will have joy that flows from deep inside our souls and bubbles over. We are told in the Psalms to be thankful. Psalms 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High. This is a great way to display our fruit, when we are thankful we are honoring God. He is due all the glory and honor and praise. He alone is worthy of our thankfulness. We should bless the Lord at all times, not just on Sunday, not just in front of our "church friends" but at all times. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Gratitude is an attitude that we all should have, as followers of Jesus. He expects it from His children and I know this because the Bible tells us what group unthankful people are put in. 2 Timothy 3:1-3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. I don't know about you, but I read this list and I can see signs of the time everywhere I look! Notice that in these last days that we are living in, God said people would be unthankful. I have witnessed this so many times in my own life, but there are those who are unthankful to God. If we want to keep our joy, we must remain thankful to God.
JOY KILLER #4:
Unrealistic Expectations I once heard a man say that to be happy in life, we just need to have our expectations met, and to be really happy, those expectations must be surpassed. I worked for a healthcare organization and they taught us to always under-promise and over-deliver. It works great! For example, I had an appointment for an outpatient exam. I was told what time to arrive, what to bring, what to wear, whether or not I was supposed to eat or take medications, and how long the procedure would last. I went to the appointment at the time they said, they got me in right away with no waiting, everything happened just as they said it would, and I was out of the department a while before I thought I was going to. That gave me a sense of joy and I was very pleased with the visit. Those extra moments to get there early for registration was not necessary that day but they couldn't predict that, so they gave me the standard 15 minutes early bit. By chance, there were a couple of cancellations so I was able to get my test done sooner. Because the test itself didn't take long, I was able to leave quickly after I had arrived. So these things were all lined up. What if I had to wait longer than I expected? I would have been upset and maybe I would have started to complain. I would not have been happy if my expectations were not met. So, what expectation should we have?
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. Our hope or expectation should be gladness. We know that our only expectation should be when we expect God to keep His promises. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? Straight out of the Scriptures! If God tells us He will do something, He will do it. If He says it, then He is speaking it into existence. You can count on it!
Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. When my dad had stage 4 colon cancer with mets, I was trusting God to heal him and make him better. I watched miracle after miracle that God did for my dad. One day when we were in the doctor's office, I was reading through a radiology report and I knew the medical terms and what the note said. It was worse than my parents were being told and I was upset. I remember feeling so desperate for answers and for any source of hope and I said, "Dad! Why aren't they telling us anything? What kind of hope do we have?" And my dad who had been a minister for all of my life and most of his, looked up at me with almost shock on his face, and he said, "My hope is in the LORD and not in these doctors!" It sucked the air right out of my lungs! How could I have so quickly dismissed the Scriptures at such a time as that. More hope in doctors than in Thus Saith The LORD. What a shame! I have NEVER forgotten that conversation. Yes, my soul will only wait on God and my expectation is surely from Him. My dad had his expectations surpassed I am sure when he became face to face with our blessed Savior, but I will keep expecting until the day I go home and with me I have joy! This scripture makes me think of the way my dad handled all that he went through. Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
JOY KILLER #5:
Forgetting The Source Of Joy I shared a story about how I forgot the source of my joy. The truth is, that in this society we live in, in America, it truly is easy to forget. We look to our friends, our spouse, our children, our career, our home, our finances, our possessions, our church, our pastor, our families to be our joy giver, but they are not, because they cannot be. Joy is given by the Heavenly Father to His children so all will know they belong to Him. Joy is contagious and many people will see our joy and want it too.
Many times people questioned me about how I could hold so tight to my faith when I was going through so much with my dad. I found that so strange! The only reason I did not crumble into a million pieces was because I had my foot upon the Rock of Ages. He carried me when I was at my darkest. He held me as I cried so hard for my sweet daddy that I will never get to embrace again this side of heaven. He strengthened me when I felt as though I may faint at one more poor report from the doctor. He sustained me when I was not sure how to even pray anymore. He sent the Comforter to me when I was told to take the rest of my dad's life moment by moment, not day by day, not week by week, not year by year, but moment by moment.
God is the giver of joy. He gives it to us full and free. Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. It truly is a precious gift from God. Jesus said in John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. When we go to God with our sincere requests, He will answer us and give us what we desire, and we will be full of joy!
In times of great suffering, loss, or pain, God will give us great joy. I Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. God will get you through those very tough times and He will get the glory. You will overcome and that will give you great joy!
We have joy in our hearts as we think of the blessed day when we will be with our Savior for all of eternity. 1 Peter 1: 6-9 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. This tells us that when our faith is going on trial, being held to the flames of fire to purify us, praise, honor, and glory can still be found at the thought of when our Lord Jesus Christ will return for us. We don't know what He looks like, but we have experienced Him through His Word and Holy Spirit as we are ministered to. We know Him and we love Him. As we continue in our faith, believing, we can rejoice with joy so amazing that we cannot even speak about it!
In closing, please hold on to your joy! The devil wants it, but he cannot have it. God gave it to you. If you have noticed a lack of joy in your life lately, perhaps it's due to one of these joy killers. Get your joy back! It is yours for the taking and for the keeping. I'd like to close with these beautiful words in Jude.
Jude 1: 24-25
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His
glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour,
be glory and majesty,
dominion and power,
both now and ever.
God bless you!