This lady also was in the choir, and I had always been taught that the choir has to keep it together and not become a distraction. This lady’s behavior was definitely distracting! I thought, If I were the music director of this church, I would not let her do that. She should go find a private place to worship because this is neither the time nor the place to act like that!
I kept recalling the Scripture that says, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40, NKJV). She certainly was not in order.
But as I stood there judging her, the pastor’s wife leaned over to me and said: “Do you see that lady up there dancing? Two days ago she lost her baby during childbirth, and here she is giving God praise. She is such an inspiration to our church.”
The conviction I felt was enough to shake me back to reality. Suddenly I realized that I had been so focused on this woman’s responses that I didn’t see what was happening in the atmosphere.
This woman was overcoming the deepest possible grief. She had lost her baby, and as she danced, she kept the enemy away from her mind. Her praise brought relief from her pain.
That was significant enough. But something more was happening that day. When I looked around the room, I saw others were weeping and finding freedom from their burdens too.
Emotions are a natural part of life, but negative emotions, if left unchecked, can establish a stronghold and leave the door open to the enemy. The Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. And he wants to steal your joy.
There have been moments in my life when I have had to fight sadness or depression. But Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly” (see John 10:10).
Abundant life is full of joy, but this joy must be activated in us. What are the secrets for activating joy? How do you get it and keep it?
GIVE GOD PRAISE
Psalm 149:6 says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand.”
Joy is a force activated by faith—faith that is expressed, first of all, through praise. Most of the time we wait until we become glad before we give God the praise He deserves. But the psalmist wrote, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24). He made his decision to give God praise because he understood that in order to be glad he had to rejoice.
Likewise, you are not going to have joy until you begin to praise God. Joy and gladness are activated through praise!
Although both joy and happiness are vital to a fulfilling life, they are not the same. Happiness is based on circumstances; but joy is activated by faith.
So often the little issues in life can add up and rob you of joy. It may not happen over night, but it will happen gradually if you meditate on negative thoughts. Feeling unsatisfied with where you are in life or comparing yourself to others will cause you to lose joy.
The enemy is subtle, patient and willing to wait for us to fall into the trap he has set for us. He knows that if he paints the picture bleak enough and gets you to start talking about how bad it is, you’ll soon be convinced that your situation is impossible.
Psalm 8:2 declares, “Out of the mouths of babes and unweaned infants You have established strength because of Your foes, that You might silence the enemy and the avenger” (The Amplified Bible).
Another translation says, “Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble” (The Message). When the enemy tries to depress you with negative thoughts, instead of agreeing with him, drown him out with praise.
FIND SOMEONE TO BLESS
The enemy will try to convince you that nobody understands what you are going through and that nobody cares about you. Remember, the devil is a liar! You may be the answer to someone’s prayer. Sow seeds of compassion and love in the lives of others and watch them come back to you. When you begin thinking about someone else instead of focusing on your own problems, you will feel strength flooding your spirit because joy is being activated in you.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (The Amplified Bible). Verse 10 says, “So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith.”
There was a time when I was feeling discontented and had fallen into the trap of comparing myself with other people. I began to feel pitiful about the things I couldn’t change, and I didn’t realize the enemy was trying to steal my joy.
Around this time I was asked to contact a young girl and encourage her. She had been raped by her father repeatedly, and was hated by her mother for having him arrested and put in prison. The abuse this young girl had suffered led her to become promiscuous, and she had formed a habit of cutting herself.
None of the little frustrations in my life could ever compare to the tragedy this girl faced, and when I heard her story, immediately I felt convicted. I called her and left a message on her answering machine.