I’ve been following Good Morning Girls Online Bible Studies for about a year and a half now. You can find their website at http://womenlivingwell.org/goodmorninggirls/ . These studies have been life changing for me. The whole premise of these studies is taking books of the Bible and studying them chapter by chapter a day at a time. Being able to really dig deep into the Word this way works for me. It’s also become a creative outlet for me since I get to use my colored pens, my highlighters and even crayons! By marking scripture in my Bible, I’ve been able to really see what God has planned to reveal to me each and every day. I’ve learned also that if I give Him some of my time, He GIVES me more of HIM!
Currently, Good Morning Girls is studying the book of Ecclesiastes and for the first time, I’ve ordered the workbook that goes along with the study. On Wednesday of this week the author of the study wrote:
“If this world has dealt you a royally bad hand, hang on, it won’t be long now until you stand face to face with the King of Kings! Take hope and courage from this truth and LIVE WITH DEFIANT JOY.”
The phrase “defiant joy” has been on my mind ever since. I have two teenagers in my home as well as a toddler so believe me, I know the word defiant well! When I think of the work “defiant” I get lots of negative images, especially when it comes to children but the author of the study meant the work defiant as a positive word. Defiant means being boldly resistant or challenging. Synonyms include insubordinate, rebellious, insolent, daring, open disregard and contempt.
So what is DEFIANT JOY? To me, it’s CHOOSING to live my life joyful no matter the circumstances, no matter the season! Be defiant, telling Satan and any JOY stealers in my midst to get out! When the dishes are piled up on the counter and the laundry room floor is covered in knee high piles of dirty clothes…I will choose JOY! I will see the blessing in it all. And that is hard, isn’t it!
So this morning, I researched the word JOY and found that JOY is not dependent on our circumstances. Joy is simply total acceptance of the present moment with conscious intent. It does not mean feeling happy all the time and floating around the house like Mary Poppins. Joy is NOT happiness. Happiness is an emotion and is based on circumstances, JOY is a love posture. Happiness is dependent on something good happening. JOY cannot be taken away. JOY is something that is chosen and sought after. In fact, the Greek word for JOY is “chara” which is closely related to the word “charis” which means grace. JOY comes when we are aware of His grace and favor.
I also found that JOY is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming second after love. JOY is a gift from God produced only by His work in us. A GIFT! It’s there for us to take hold of. He is standing right beside us with JOY in His hand waiting for us to take it!
So how do I find JOY in this season of life? One way I found in my reading today is becoming more mindful of the present. Stop focusing on the past or future. Think of it like a calculator, after pressing buttons and adding, subtracting, multiplying dividing…simply pressing the C key clears out all the equations. Many times during my day I need to press the C key. By pressing the C key, I can slow down and become simply in the moment and begin taking things one task at a time.
Another way is to simply focus on God. Dwell in Him not only when things are difficult or our circumstances bleak. Focus on Him in the good times. Develop a thankful spirit. Pour your heart out to Him and give our troubles to Him. Praise Him, acknowledge His presence and PRAY! I love Philippians 4:4-8.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 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.
Psalms 19:8 tells us,
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Thirdly, JOY comes when we rely on a community of believers. I truly believe that the company you keep heavily influences your life. Those coworkers at work with a bad attitude can influence your attitude at work as well. Negative people are poison. Spend even just a small amount of time with a negative person and they will suck the JOY right out of you. Try to find positive people to put into your life. Our friendships should build us up, help us carry our own burdens and should strengthen us. If you are around people who don’t do this for your life, maybe you should step away.
Rick Warren wrote:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
So today, I choose JOY! I choose to be present and open to the day!