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What is Practical Joy?
What does that EVEN MEAN?
John Piper says, "Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world."
That's beautiful and encouraging and invigorating- "beauty of Christ in the world"... until my toddler takes his diaper off and smears my flat-painted walls with his poop. Or until my tween rolls her eyes at me. AGAIN. Or until my husband has a rough day at work and takes it out on me. Or until PMS rears it's ugly head again. Or until I haven't had enough coffee... had too much coffee... haven't eaten... ate too much... Until I'm too hot or too cold or didn't get enough sleep or maybe napped too long... Like whatever. A LOT of things steal my joy. I am nothing if not fully of my flesh.
In Psalm 4:7, David says "You have filled my heart with great joy." In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says "Be joyful ALWAYS. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you, in Christ Jesus."
I NEED joy. I CRAVE joy. I am told to be joyful- ALWAYS? What? I WANT THIS JOY. And in the peace and quiet of my closet or shower or car (when rarely alone), when I can hear myself think and take deep breaths, and offer my best worship and praise up to God- I experience the FULLNESS of this joy. And I want more.
I want it all. the. time.
Practical means "the doing or use of something rather than with theories or ideas." Actual. Experience-based. Hands-on. APPLIED.
So practical joy is the applied, hands-on, experiential feeling of goodness in the SOUL, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world-in every single moment and in every single circumstance. It is the DOING of the things that Christ calls us to do and then seeing the beauty in it.
When we see the beauty of Christ in our everyday, ordinary lives- in all of the moments: good, bad, and ugly- the Holy Spirit dwelling within us arouses JOY in our very soul. The "hands-on" portion means we have to be ACTIVELY INVOLVED in this process. Joy doesn't just "happen", unless a large margarita and bowl of queso count.
So THAT is practical joy. THAT is what I'm pursuing and finding glimpses of and hoping to encourage others in. The seeing of the ever-present beauty in all of God's creation, in all of God's people (yes, all), and in every circumstance in my life- and doing the nitty-gritty work of pursuing it and not letting go.
I don't have it all figured out. I'm far from perfect. But I can say this- I have a joyful life. I have angry moments and days. I have jealous moments. I have impatient moments. I have PMS moments and days. But my life is STILL joyful. Most of my moments are joy-filled, and I truly en-joy my family, my calling, my work, my relationships, my days.
I'm intentional to never allow two "bad" days back to back- I work hard to not allow two "bad" moments, back-to-back. I won't let Satan steal my time that way- steal my joy. This joyful life didn't come overnight, and I'm nowhere near the finish line (Lord willing!). I've had significant losses, setbacks, and hurts that seem nearly unhealable- but God.
And so I press on- pressing into Him- and I hope you'll journey along with me, practically speaking ;).