By Yvette Walker
During this unique season, I have been working from home instead of in my office at college. Every day I get up, make the bed, feed my four-footed kids (two cats, one dog) and come into the dining room.
I don’t know why, but the dining table has been my makeshift desktop since March 16. I have a perfectly good study, but the dining room seems warmer, more inviting. I open my laptop, log on and begin the day. I’m a bit of a homebody, so I’m loving the arrangement, even though I’m an extrovert and miss the company of my coworkers and students.
Something had been on my mind for a while, and that was to start a podcast. I wanted it to be about beauty standards, how we dress and style ourselves and how sometimes America does not approve. It was to be called Hair Goddess, after a book I’d published a a few years ago.
But God said, “No, you are to talk about JOY.”
Uh, OK, Lord, I’m listening.
And so, Positively Joy was born. In the middle of a pandemic, at home, in my dining room. I knew just enough audio editing software to be dangerous, and I knew enough people who would talk to me.
It has been a delight to my soul, and, I hope, a fun listening exercise to my followers.
To be honest, my first listeners were the birds, who visited the trees outside my dining room window. These busybodies love to talk, and it is a sound of … well, if I had to describe it … a sound of pure joy. I hear chirps and twitters, caws and beeps. It’s a majestic symphony outside my window.
To my ears, it’s such a joyful noise. But I wonder, are the birds really singing for joy, praising the heavens, even? The birdsong has made me reflect on joy – and the absence of it in the midst of Covid-19.
So many people around the world have had their lives turned upside down: jobs furloughed or lost, kids being schooled at home, new graduates losing internships and positions previously offered.
But there is joy to be found – even now – and it’s in Jesus.
If joy is, by definition, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying,” then Jesus is a cause of our joy.
In fact, God gave us joy as a “fruit of the Spirit” after his resurrection. It is found through living life by the Spirit. We find this in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
When I look back at those nine fruits of the spirit, I think how needed they are right now. I think so many of us go through life not receiving pure joy, but rather just getting by. It’s like we need a shock to the senses.
Have you ever noticed how pure joy sometimes comes after deep sadness?
- Doctors perform emergency heart surgery but the patient lives.
- A house burns but a family member survives.
- A son loses his way but finds God in prison.
In every instance, we start with heartbreak and overwhelming sadness, but as the situation resolves, we are filled with unbridled joy. Could our joy have peaked so high had we not walked through the valley?
Another example: A friend, teacher and master dies, but is risen.
After the crucifixion, Jesus’ followers were the lowest of the low. They had lost their Master! They spent three years witnessing and seeing Christ’s miracles, and now he’s dead? That’s about as low as one can get.
But unknown to them, joy was coming.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. – Matthew 28 5:7
I don’t wish tragedies on anyone just so they can experience joy. But if we are allowing ourselves to lose an opportunity to know Christ, that is a tragedy. Pure joy comes from a very personal place. Pure joy in Jesus comes from a personal experience with Him only after realizing that we must give all our hopes, dreams and fears – our very life – to him.
After the resurrection, it’s only when Jesus has a personal encounter with the disciples that they realize it’s him. He calls them by name. Thomas touches the risen Jesus’ wounds. Then they know it’s truly their Lord.
Jesus even appears to the disciples and at first, they don’t recognize him. But when they interact with him, he “opens their minds” and they experience pure joy at seeing him.
So, how can we have this personal experience? The very solution is probably sitting there on your desk or maybe on a bookshelf in your home. It’s the Bible.
God’s personal word is waiting for you, and His word is something I mention in every episode of Positively Joy.
In John, chapter 15, Jesus is talking to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, trying to impart wisdom and knowledge that they needed to know. And he tells them that he is doing this for the sake of joy:
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” — John 15:11
Let Jesus open your mind. CHOOSE him. Choose joy. And remember the birds. If the jury is out on whether they truly know joy, YOU CAN. God gave you a sound mind, so choose joy!
Yvette Walker is the host of www.positivelyjoy.com, a multicultural, multiethnic podcast that takes a Christian look at the search for joy and light in all seasons of life.