how do I have more joy in my life?

Updated: May 5, 2020

I have been extra grumpy this week. I didn't mean to be, it just sort of happened. I snapped at my husband, yelled at the dog, and pushed the cat off the couch a few times for really no reason at all. Every little thing has been irritating me. The guy ahead of me in the drive-thru took way to long to decide what his order was. The construction worker who is remodeling my neighbor's house parked in my usual parking spot outside our house. Today while I was pumping gas, my gas cap fell off my car and rolled underneath it. I had to get down on my hands and knees in a puddle to retrieve it! UGH.

Today, as I was doing my daily Bible study, I came across Isaiah 12- a song of praise to God.

Isaiah 12

In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense[a]; he has become my salvation.” With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

As I read this portion of the text, I got stuck on the phrase "let this be known to all the world". The verse is saying that when I love God and know what he has done for me, my attitude should be so full of light, that other people can't help but notice.

My attitude has not been full of light this week.

This was really a new concept for me- the idea that our optimistic and joyful presence can be a witness for God. No offense to many of the people I've met, but so many of us seem to be anything but joyful. Manners are out of style but attitude adjustments are still needed. We become so preoccupied with our lives and our work and our stressors that we forget how blessed we are. We let the little things in life bring us down. We allow short tempers and impatience to ruin our entire day in an instance. Even as I am writing this post I'm still harboring some nasty feelings from earlier this week!

As I read those verses I felt pretty guilty. This is an area of my life I need to get a lot better at. The truth is, I do have a lot to be happy about. I am incredibly blessed- even when I am going through a time of trial or hardship. The problem is I have made such a habit of being a downer that sometimes I forget how to be happy. In this time of grumpiness, I feel like an Israelite.

Numbers 11:1 One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The Lord heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.

Numbers 11:4-10 One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don’t have any meat! In Egypt, we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic.  But we’re starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.”

 The manna was like small whitish seeds and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.

The Israelites stood around their tents complaining. Moses heard them and was upset that they had made the Lord angry.

Numbers 14:26-27 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.

Even Moses, who was a cherished and devoted servant of God couldn't bear the negativity of the camp. Unfortunately for Moses, when he finally acted on his emotions, it didn't go well for him at all.

Numbers 11:11-15 So Moses said to the Lord, "Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? "Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers'? "Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, 'Give us meat that we may eat!'

Numbers 20:2-11 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord!  Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here?  Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

I must admit I feel kind of sorry for Moses in this story... because I would've wanted to strike the rock too.

The Israelites were so blessed. They had been saved from the terrible abuse of the Egyptians. They had been brought out of persecution and slavery. They were being taken to a literal promised land. But look how quickly they forgot. Look how quickly they went back to their habit of bitterness and misery.

Not everyone seems to struggle as severely with moodiness problems or complaining. There are some people who are seemingly so happy and smiley all the time that it starts to really annoy a pessimist like me... but I have to admit they have a special gift. They are carrying out the message of Isaiah 12 and bringing joy to God with their happiness. No doubt they too have moments of depression, but they push through and it shows. They are able to remember the blessings. What a change we would see in the world if we were all a little happier and more willing to let go of our negative feelings. What a change our health would see as well. It has been proven that being happy adds actual years to your life!

Can you imagine what it would be like if you were constantly recognized for your positive attitude? Can you imagine how many opportunities might arise to share Jesus simply because you smiled? Simply because you didn't lose your temper as quickly as your co-workers? Simply because you chose to be happy?

Happiness is a choice, but praise God we have a good reason to choose it. Our delight can be rooted in knowing Jesus. It can stem from knowing that no matter what, in the good times or the bad, God has a plan and evil will lose. Life on earth might be disastrous but eternity is going to be pretty sweet. Take some time this weekend to count your blessings. Take some time to do what you love, show appreciation for those around you, and reflect on how far you've come from your past.

It's time to start a happiness epidemic!

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