I remember being a young employee called into my boss’s office. I sat down in front of his large executive desk as he closed the door. I was frantically going through my memory to find anything I could have done wrong.
As he sat down in his leather banker chair, he asked me in all seriousness, “Why are you so happy all the time?”
Taken aback, I wasn’t even sure what he had just asked me.
“Happy all the time?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said a little frustrated with me. “You always have a smile on your face and seem happy no matter what happens. How do you do that?”
I knew my boss struggled with down days. He had grown up in a very religious home based on works. He tried to be kind to those he led and to love others. But he never acted like he enjoyed his life or was very happy.
I had prayed for over a year for him to have a real relationship with Jesus, to know he was unconditionally loved and to feel free to be happy without the guilt. Here was my open door to share the “secret of my joy.” We had a surprising conversation about my faith in Jesus and how that applied to my every day.
If I hadn’t allowed the joy in my life to spread to my face, would my boss have asked me about my heart? A smile is vulnerable and makes others wonder about the Jesus you long to share.
I wonder if the way we live makes a life with Jesus look like a joyous adventure or an unhappy religion?
Sometimes those I encounter that don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus seem happier than those of us that do. That doesn’t seem the way God intended us to live after experiencing an eternal freedom from sin and love with no bounds. Why would our neighbor be attracted to a faith that was full of hate, unhappiness, anxiety, impatience, and brutality instead of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness?
We are to “count it all joy, when we meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let that steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV, emphasis mine)
God empowers us with the ability to have joy in our circumstances even if we may not feel it, and that joy is unexplainable without Jesus. He is the secret to getting through the trials in our lives and being in an anchored place of contentment — joy in patience and peace.
I know that Jesus tells us we will suffer on His behalf and not always be treated fairly because the enemy hates us. But in the middle of all of that, do we really believe “the joy of the Lord is our strength?”
Maybe the lack of joy in our lives is why you and I are so tired. Perhaps we’ve somehow missed out on His joy and that’s what’s making us unhappy, exhausted, and a dimmed light for the Kingdom.
During rough waters, I’ve held onto the Lord until I found my joy in Him. I’ve learned Jesus is the source of our joy because He is joy and that’s where I can receive the strength I need.
The Holy Spirit also bears fruit on our behalf, in and through us. Love is number one, and joy is a close second. It is by His strength that our joy returns, knowing that we are loved infinitely well.
Circumstances and what we do don’t change the strength of the Lord’s joy. Paul worshiped Jesus in prison, lighting the way for the guards to be free from bondage with a newfound faith in Jesus. For the joy set before Him — pleasing God the Father, a reconciled love relationship with you, and the defeat of the enemy — Jesus endured the cross.
We need to be the women of Jesus, living a life that shows others that we are ambassadors of His and are promised joy with His Spirit. And the world will pause for a moment to ask us why we can be so happy in the middle of the chaos that is our world and we can share our life giving faith in Jesus.