How’s your joy?
I hear groaning!
There are plenty of reasons to feel down. For one, here in Central Texas the June temperatures are mimicking mid-August and just stepping outside will cause you to swoon. Hard to be joyful when sweat drips down your back and melted sunscreen burns your eyes.
It doesn’t help to stand in the heat pumping near five dollar a gallon gas into your tank. Sticker shock at the grocery store piles on and the endless stream of cultural and political bickering takes its toll. Everything seems harder since 2020 and it is wearing us down.
James 1:2 admonishes us to count it all joy when we confront trials because they help us to become patient and patience will make us perfect, needing nothing. That advice can feel like fingernails on a chalkboard when offered in the face of our frustrations, but if you think about it, it makes sense.
If you can hold on to your joy when you are facing personal and financial meltdown, coping with continual bad news and rolling from COVID-19 to Monkey Pox, you become less and less vulnerable to circumstances. You are A-OK even if things around you are crazy.
So how do you accomplish this feat? How do you remain cool, calm, and collected when the heat is on?
The Apostle Paul gives us a clue when he told the Romans: For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6 KJV).
To be carnally minded means that you focus on what your five physical senses tell you. To be spiritually minded means to look to God’s Word instead of your circumstances to predict your future.
Paul seemed to have a jump on science, which indicates that emotions—such as feelings of despair or joy—are created when the brain processes circumstances through thoughts, memories, and beliefs.
The Carnal Brain: It’s 104 on June 13! Summer hasn’t even officially begun! it’s just going to get worse! Remember 2011 when it was over 100° everyday with no rain? The lakes dried up and the Piney Woods burned down! They say the electrical grid can’t take it! Even if I could afford AC, it will probably go down! I’ll never survive! This is terrible!
We have no problem accessing our fleshly response to the news, but how do we tune in to the Spiritual reaction? Emotions always come in the same way, evolving naturally from thoughts, memories, and beliefs, but living in the Spirit produces a different trajectory.
The Spiritual Mind: It’s hot! My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water! BUT I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:1, 7). Thank you that I can seek you early and enjoy the sunrise and the morning breeze. I remember that you brought me through that terrible summer in 2011, even as I was evacuated from the fire!. Fall came and it was cool and rains fell and it will come again! Thank you that seasons don’t last forever! Thank you for your promise that I will walk through the fire and not be burned and that the hard trials will not hurt me (Isaiah 43:2 GNT). You are my God, and I will praise you.
That’s not our go-to position on trouble for sure! But James is right. Keep being thankful for the practice! Every time you win a small victory of patience, it prepares you for the next thing coming down the road. God promises that when we ask Him for what we need and thank Him for what He has done, He will give us peace that passes all understanding. It just won’t make sense to those carnally minded folks how you float above it all!
Now that’s joy!