All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.
Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:
Illness. Ranking toward the top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.
Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.
Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.
Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.
Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items—such as new cars to compete with the neighbors or an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due—over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.
Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.
Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?
Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.
Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.
Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.
Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.
And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.
So what can we do when joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?
Pray diligently and often. Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I realize you might not take it completely away, I know You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.
Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. A good reminder to keep our eyes on Him. When we do so, we are held safely in His grasp.
Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.
Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.
Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.
Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.
Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.
Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.
Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.
Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.
Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.
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