Nechemyah the Tirshata, ‘Ezra the cohen and Torah-teacher and the L’vi’im who taught the people said to all the people, “Today is consecrated to Adonai your God; don’t be mournful, don’t weep.” For all the people had been weeping when they heard the words of the Torah. Then he said to them, “Go, eat rich food, drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who can’t provide for themselves; for today is consecrated to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy of Adonai is your strength.” In this way the L’vi’im quieted the people, as they said, “Be quiet, for today is holy; don’t be sad.” Then the people went off to eat, drink, send portions and celebrate; because they had understood the words that had been proclaimed to them. ~~ Nehemiah 8: 9-12
Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
— Leo Tolstoy (b: 1828 – d: 1910), famous Russian author
So what are we doing on this fine Shabbat? Oh, just chill’n…
You make me know the path of life; in your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight. ~~ Psalm 16: 11
Scripture references are from the Complete Jewish Bible unless otherwise indicated.
‘Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.
Joy differs from happiness in fundamental ways. Did you realize that? Joy is not based on circumstance. Joy is not based on getting what we want. Joy does not disappear when tragedy occurs. Stop and let those words sink in.
While the tips mentioned here will undoubtedly improve daily life for anyone who follows them, they will not create joy in a person. No, the most crucial element of authentic joy is that it is a gift of God. Those out of fellowship with the One True God, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can never have true sustained joy.
Within a genuine relationship with Adonai, there are keys to maintaining the joy He provides. They are basic, practical steps with profound outcomes for those who implement them.
Guard and carefully choose each thought and word. This is the most important element in living a more joyous life. It is non-negotiable. Joy, if we have it at all, will evaporate if we don’t guard our thoughts and words. Based on the thoughts we allow ourselves to think and the words we allow to come out of our mouths, our attitude is formed. We must guard them like we are on perpetual sentry duty with a relentless enemy at the gate; which is an accurate visual of our ongoing fight against powers and principalities. A careless word or loose thought is like allowing the Trojan horse within the camp! It only appears harmless at the beginning…
Choose to appreciate and be grateful. Decide to find things in everyone to appreciate. Notice and acknowledge the good things, however small. Don’t flatter, that is a sin…but give encouragement and express sincere appreciation. Decide to find things in daily life, outside of people, to appreciate (electricity, heat, air conditioning, left turn signals at that busy intersection, etc.). Be grateful. Have a constant gratitude toward YHWH.
Choose silence over empty or hurtful words. Think carefully before speaking. Our words can deliver death via gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude. Or we can speak truth in love. The key to infusing our verbal utterances with LIFE is to control the thoughts that precede the words. When in doubt, stay silent. Our world would certainly benefit from less mindless chatter.
Stop comparisons and negativity. Let go of comparisons, perfectionism, past mistakes, trying to “do it all”, busyness, cultural and societal pressures, external measures of success, critical thinking and negativity. Choose gratitude over comparison and discontentment. Stop comparing your looks, possessions, house, job, number of friends, circumstances to others. Elohim knows every hair on your head. He made you unique to handle your own unique situation as no one else could, and to bring Him glory while doing it.
Stop focusing on possessions. When our thoughts are focused on YHWH we naturally lessen the value and pull of temporal things on our hearts and minds. Often times it is said that we don’t really own our possessions but they own us. That is poisonous to joy. Loosen the grip on “things” and let them go. Our treasure is not in this world or its trinkets.
Smile. Laugh. Be active. Our Sovereign Creator made our bodies with all their intricacies. He made it so that stress and the toxins it may create inside us can be lessened with physical actions such as exercise, laughter and smiling. Why should we get uptight and worried? We know Who is in charge of all things. He made all things for His purposes. Smile, laugh and dance to rejoice in our Creator! Show Him you delight in Him!
Pray continually. An authentic relationship with anyone is based on two-way communication. In order to have a meaningful relationship with YHWH we must spend time in prayer, both speaking and listening. Having set times to pray each day can be helpful. But don’t put Adonai on the shelf for the rest of your day, pulling Him out like a genie when it is convenient. We need Him at the forefront of our minds and hearts every moment. Nothing we need to bring Him has to wait until later.
Read, study and meditate on God’s Word. The Bible (the Whole Word, from Genesis to Revelation) is the basis for all wisdom and when understood in its true Hebraic context will draw us closer to our Creator. No day of our lives should pass without reading some part of His blessed instruction book.
Do good, be generous, and help others. A heart after God’s own is a loving, generous, helpful one. Regardless of any return for our efforts or even if the good deed with be noticed, we demonstrate Elohim in our positive actions toward others. He needs to be the motivation and inspiration, and the only One receiving glory for any good we do.
Live in loving obedience. Read Psalms 119 and note how blessed it is to follow our Creator’s instructions. Living in obedience is an act of love toward Him. Yeshua our Messiah stated that we would demonstrate our love by obeying Him. He also said He did nothing apart from the Father. Obedience isn’t a burden or a prerequisite for salvation. It is a loving response to the grace given us. Without love toward Elohim, joy is impossible. They function in unison.
Seek God’s peace. Shalom. That incredibly beautiful word means much more than just “peace” as most define it. Shalom is something we should pray for, but often we don’t even think about doing that. What a simple concept. Ask and it will be given? Why don’t we ask for the shalom only Adonai can give?
Everyone wants to live a more joyous life. Throughout the ups and downs of this earthly existence, we all have moments of profound happiness, enthusiasm and excitement. We may even have a type of elation that resembles joy. But to live in a state of joyous calm and peaceful strength, unscathed by the whirlwind around us, is truly to be blessed by YHWH through a deeper connection with Him.