Nehemiah 8:10 is an encouraging scripture that says, "…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (AMP). God wants us to stay joyful no matter what difficulties we face in life, because His joy is our strength. Simply put, it's the fruit of joy that strengthens us to go through whatever we have to deal with and make it to the end result. That's why, as Christians, joy should be our normal mood.
Paul was determined to enjoy the journey no matter how many potholes were in the road. In Colossians 1:11, he wrote, "[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy" (AMP). Our joy is a weapon. It gives us the ability to not only endure difficulties, but to enjoy life in the midst of them.
Obstacles to Joy
But what happens when you wake up in the morning feeling low, irritated, discouraged or frustrated – and you don't know exactly why? There has to be a reason. Well, for every "fruit" there is a root. And if you don't get to the root of a bad mood, you just start blaming everything and everybody for making you feel bad, and focusing only on all the things that are wrong rather than the good God is doing in your life.
It's amazing how our minds automatically lean toward the negative. That's our old, unregenerate nature at work. But God's Word says we are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). And Ephesians 4:24 tells us to "put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness" (AMP). This means we have to deliberately put on Christ's love, mercy and patience – it's a choice we make.
Before you start thinking, "But Joyce, you don't understand how bad things have been and how much I'm hurting," I want to remind you of an encouraging truth. God never tells us to do something He doesn't give us the ability to do. Philippians 4:13 (AMP) says, "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]." The key is to always lean on Jesus for the ability and strength you need to do what you need to do.
Figure Out Why You Feel Bad
If you're frustrated by a bad attitude and not sure how to begin to overcome it, you need to discover the root of the fruit. Sometimes there are obvious reasons we feel lousy. It may be a bad habit, like not eating right or staying up too late at night. I always feel bad the next day when I eat too much sugar and carbohydrates. The simple solution is to eat healthier and go to bed at a decent time.
On a spiritual level, maybe you care too much about what people think about you to the point you are letting them control you. As a result you always say "yes" to people when you really want to say, "no." Or you wake up feeling bad because you did something wrong the day before and haven't repented of it yet. Now you're reaping the consequences. But 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NKJV).
Is Your Spiritual Gas Tank Empty?
When I do a conference, I give it my all, and I'm glad to do it. But when I go home, if I don't take time to get back in the Word, spend quiet time with God and get "filled up" spiritually, I'm bound to get a bad mood and start grumbling and complaining. When I run on empty, I'm a mess!
You must spend daily time in God's presence if you're going to live with the joy of the Lord. The more intimate your personal relationship with Him becomes, the better your fruit will be. Isaiah 40:31 (AMP) confirms it:
"Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired."
If you're not living with the joy of the Lord, examine the root of your fruit. Spend time with God, study the Word, do what He tells you to do by His grace, and soon your joy will return.