Living joyfully requires putting our trust in the right things. Anxiety strips us of joy, but trusting in the right things gives us the certainty necessary to alleviate or lessen anxiety. We experience joyful living out of a posture of peace. In this episode we discuss the peace that surpasses all understanding, and experiencing joy and joyful living when we learn to trust.
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We Experience Joy When We Learn to Trust
We are living joyfully, but there has never been a time in our lives when we were less certain about what we were doing or where we are going than right now. We are in a holding pattern. This is raw and pure trust. We are certain God is leading us, we have been cautioned in our spirits that we must ruthlessly trust and follow God’s leading. We have a great peace that God is leading us into an awesome season, and this season is so awesome, it requires our leaning upon every ounce of trust we have learned.
This trust is allows joy rather than anxiety because our uncertainty is not uncertain, but our uncertainty is certain that we can trust God.
This is the fourth week that we have focused upon living a joyful life, and really what it takes to do so. For this particular series we have anchored in the New Testament book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul writes the book from the advanced stages of imprisonment, and he keeps referencing joy and joyful living, even while living in one of the worst possible scenarios he can imagine.
In week one we discussed living joyfully in spite of our circumstances. Week two was about experiencing joy through living a life of humility and service to others. Then, in week three we talked about experiencing joy from the inside out, that joy starts on the inside, primarily through relationship with Christ and the transformation we experience on the inside.
This week we are discussing a life joy we experience because we are peaceful. We are at peace. For us, the greatest source of peace we have found is through trusting God. We talk much of trusting God because that is what we have had to do and had to learn.
It’s hard to find joy in living when you don’t feel or have security. Security comes through trust. some place their trust in government, economic structures, investment firms, self, or the people we trust in our lives.
The measure of our joy is directly related to where we place our trust, and the stability of that trust.
In our journey from devastation and pain to joyful living, which, of course, is our continuing journey, this one verse of scripture emerged as a HUGE guiding light:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4.4-7 ESV
The part that impacted both of us more than any other was the line, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
You can’t have joy unless you have peace.
Where does the peace come from? How do you find peace in the middle of the “stuff?”
The EMOTION of Joyful Living
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Joy is an emotion. Rejoicing is an external demonstration of an internal joy. Emotion can be genuine or it can be contrived.
This sounds hokey, but sometimes we’ve got to look for something to rejoice about. It is a matter of perspective, but there is always something for which we can authentically and genuinely rejoice.
Make a mental list, find something, and then decide how you will rejoice.
Rejoicing is an emotion based upon a revelation or an awareness.
The INTELLECT of Joyful Living
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”
The suffix “-ness” indicates an attribute, something we possess in some measure. The suffix “-able” indicates an ability toward that which is described by the root. This phrase, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone,” means we are to outwardly demonstrate our ability and practice of thinking, reasoning, and intellectually considering views, perspectives, and realities.
Joy is an emotion, but it’s not all about emotion, it is also about intellect.
A reasonable person considers various perspectives.
A reasonable person considers alternatives. A reasonable person thinks through things, is reflective about the things happening in their lives, and how those things affect them and others.
The emotional demonstration of joy is not enough for a transformation leader, one who lives, leads, and loves the people in their lives. A thoughtful basis for joy is also important in order for it to be transformational.
God’s directive to my soul when I began my grief journey was, “pay attention so you can help others.” God was directing me to be cognitive, to write, to observe, to stay in touch with my feelings, emotions, and journey so I could guide others along their paths later.
Someone who outwardly demonstrates joy through incessant rejoicing, but it has not basis — to me, those people are just annoying. But, when there is a reason for your rejoicing it is powerful.
You may not understand, and we will get to that, but joy involves our intellect, our “knowing.” Joyful living means considering where you are, what is happening, and what it might mean for living forward.
Joyful living involves thinking about the reasons we have for joy, the purposes attached to it, and even strategies and plans for moving forward. We not only experience joy in the present, but many times the deepest abiding joy we can experience is because we anticipate the possibilities ahead.
Joy is an emotion, it involves our intellect, and it involves our spirituality.
The SPIRITUALITY of Joyful Living
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
God is with us. I trust him; therefore, I have joy because I know he is guiding me.
Anxiety strips joy.
This verse gives us an alternative to anxiety, “…but in everything by prayer and supplication… let your requests be made known to God.” Another verse of scripture says, “Cast your anxiety upon (God) because he cares for you.”
Certainty dispels anxiety.
Anxiety: “Will I have enough financial resources in retirement?”
Certainty: A viable, long-term savings plan with an acceptable risk tolerance.
Anxiety: “I don’t have a source of income sufficient to meet our needs.”
Certainty: “I am following God’s plan and I trust Him to provide.
Anxiety: “I feel the pain of loss and my circumstances and I want it to be over.”
Certainty: “I trust God to make a way for me.”
This is a trust thing. Do we trust God? The greater our trust in God, the less our anxiety. When anxiety does not interfere with joyful living, we are free to experience joy.
This verse tells us to let our requests be made known to God by prayer and supplication. The root of the word “supplication” is “supply.” A supply is a reserve of what we need. A supplement is something added to what we have to meet a need. We eat a meal and we take a vitamin supplement to add something we need to what we did not get in the meal.
Supplication is asking for what we need. Letting God know what we need. Prayer is talking to God. We are to talk with God about our anxiety, what we need, the circumstances of our lives. We are to communicate with God with thanksgiving, in other words, from a grateful heart we present our needs. Not complaining that we do not have what we want or need, but being thankful for the provision of God, yet moving the burden of the things creating our anxiety onto God’s shoulders.
It is through the work of God in our lives that we are then in touch with the EMOTION of joy, because we have a sense of well-being that through our trust in God, he will give us the CERTAINTY of his involvement. We are in touch with the INTELLECT of joy, because when we transition our anxiety to trust, we can reasonably reflect and a path will emerge, along with mission and strategy.
I am far less anxious when I have a plan. Sometimes my plan is simply following God, other times, a path emerges that I know I am to walk.
Having the certainty that God is directing my future and my path dissipates anxiety and allows joy to emerge.
Remember, discussing your needs and situation with God does not mean that he will take your directives and answer according to your plan; rather, we are thankful that God is smarter than we are, usually has a better plan, and we will partner with Him in His path.
The PEACE of Joyful Living
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is the key, this is THE key, this is the KEY to joyful living: the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.
One of the transitional transformational moments that enabled me to pursue a joyful life was that moment when I said to God, “If you would just help me understand, I think if I understood the “why” of what has happened, I would be okay.” God’s response, “This is beyond your understanding, you will never understand, your human mind and context makes you incapable of understanding why, I need you to trust me on this one.”
I decided to trust. I decided to stop trying to understand. I shunned explanations others would offer. I would not understand, I could not understand, I would trust God, and I would leave it at that.
There were many windows, but this was a big one.
The scriptures says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding….” When I cannot or do not understand, I must trust, or I will know nothing but anxiety.
If I do not trust God, I will simply find no peace from Him or his paths. If I am filled with anxiety, I cannot live joyfully.
We don’t gain the peace of God because we have the assurance that he will do exactly what we want him to do, but we have peace that even when we don’t understand what has happened, we don’t understand the why, we don’t understand why God did not or is not answering, yet we have peace because we trust God.
This peace that goes beyond my understanding, it will guard your hearts (emotion) and your minds (intellect) in Christ Jesus.
This promise is null and void if you are not in Christ Jesus. This is not a self-help nugget that you can apply without the foundation. There are a lot of things in the Bible that if you just apply them they will make a difference in your life, whether you have a faith in Christ or not. Love your neighbor, treat others as you want to be treated, invest your talents, etc., but this peace and trust thing does not work unless you have indeed placed your trust in Christ.
The peace of God that goes beyond my ability to understand will guard my heart and mind from an unbridled anxiety. It will guard me against the uncertainty of the “what ifs.”
You can’t have joy without peace, you can’t have peace without trust.
Calibration Tools… Calibrating Our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead
- The EMOTION of joyful living: What brings you joy and how do you embrace and express the emotion? Think of one thing that brings you joy and consider how you celebrate that one thing.
- The INTELLECT of joyful living: Is your approach to anxiety and pain reasonable? Are you based in reality? Are you in denial? Have you accepted the difficulty and the possibilities of the transformation it empowers?
- The SPIRITUALITY of joyful living: What are the things you must release to God? In what things must you trust God? Can you / Do you deal with anxiety by presenting it to God and trusting Him for his actions and outcomes? Can you embrace joy and joyful living when your prayers are not and will not be answered in the way you wanted them answered? Why or why not?
- The PEACE of joyful living: Can you release the need to understand and walk a bit of the journey not knowing all the answers? Does the peace that comes from trust guard your emotions and your thinking? Does your perspective need to change, and if so, how?
We started out by saying, “We are living joyfully, but there has never been a time in our lives when we were less certain about what we were doing or where we are going than right now. We are in a holding pattern. This is raw and pure trust. We are certain God is leading us, we have been cautioned in our spirits that we must ruthlessly trust and follow God’s leading. We have a great peace that God is leading us into an awesome season, and this season is so awesome, it requires our leaning upon every ounce of trust we have learned.”
You are a leader committed to the transformation of those you love and lead. You are on a mission, you have a purpose, and you want to see God’s path emerge and his plan fulfilled. We want to see thing greater than we could imagine, we want to live an adventure bigger than us, we have a conviction that the things God knows and the things he wants to do in our lives is tremendously bigger than what we can come up with on our own.
There’s been a lot about out path that we’ve despised, but we have a peace that God is leading us, and you, and we trust him, and we are on our way to the best yet. That fills us with joy.
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