Saying Happy New Year to people seems quite ironic. Firstly, we are barely seeing anyone to say it to, and secondly, it feels far from happy. We are in the middle of a global pandemic with all the worries, fears and consequences that brings: grief, illness, loneliness, job insecurity, debt and mental illness, to name a few. Coupled with that, we have adverse weather conditions; people having to be evacuated from flooded homes and the uncertainty of what Brexit and a new US president will mean for us all. Indeed, what is there to be happy about?
Yet though happiness may be dependent upon circumstances, joy is not. Joy is an inner attribute that keeps us steadfast despite our circumstances. But where can we find this joy?
Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." God can fill us with joy.
Joy comes when we take our eyes off our circumstances and remind ourselves of God’s eternal goodness. Jesus said we were to look at the beauty of birds and flowers and see how they are looked after… they do not worry! (Matthew 6:25-34) When we worry, we focus upon the problem, but when we look to God in faith he can lift us above our circumstances and give us hope and an inner joy, even in the bleakest of seasons!
Consider the acronym. J.O.Y. Jesus first. Others next. Yourself last. For we have so much to give thanks for when we look to Jesus. He gives us an eternal perspective, a much bigger picture…let us keep that order of priorities.
King David found the source of true joy, when he wrote, “In Your (God’s) presence is fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11
God is our source and our destiny. Our true joy comes when our lives and perspectives are in line with His.
So how do you connect with God? What brings you joy? For me, long walks in the great outdoors, noticing the little things, the reflection in a puddle, the sky, hearing birdsong etc. are great ways for me to connect and think of God’s eternal greatness. I also connect with God when I am painting and expressing myself that way. Maybe you love music, gardening, baking, sport…
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all for the glory of God and be thankful.” Being thankful and cultivating an attitude of gratitude is key to finding joy. Rather than regret and grumbling at what we no longer have, let us give thanks for the gift that was, and look forward in faith to what will be, with a heart of gratitude and an inner joy that no circumstance can steal.
For fear looks down, worry looks around, but faith looks up! God bless you all this New Year!