Being Full Of Joy In All Circumstances By Amy Leong
For the month of December, the theme of Kingdom Women Entrepreneurs is "Fullness of Joy" with the scripture focus being:
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
Before we think about what “fullness of joy” means, let’s start with a basic understanding of what “joy” is.
What is “Joy”?
I’ve often heard people use “happiness” and “joy” interchangeably however, I think that there is a distinct difference.
“Happiness” is usually the result of an event or happening – for example:
“I was given a gift (event/happening) so I was happy (the result)”; or
“I went bike riding (event/happening) and I felt so happy (the result)”.
“Joy” on the other hand, is not dependent on our external circumstances. Rather, I’ve come to understand “joy” as being the fruit of understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness and His delight in us as His children.
From the Scriptures, we know the following about “joy”:
JOY is a byproduct of our time with the Lord: “But the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” – Galatians 5:22
JOY gives us strength: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” – Nehemiah 8:10
JOY brings healing: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
So if this is what “joy” is, what then is “fullness of joy”? How do we know when our joy is “full”?
Fullness of Joy
In episode 961 of his podcast, “Ask Pastor John”, theologian and pastor, John Piper said that: “We can be said to have fullness of joy in God if our joy in God is so full that it outweighs all other competing emotions and overflows in love to others.”
Dear friend, have you ever experienced this before?
There are four examples in my own life that come to mind.
The first was when I went on a mission trip to Vanuatu. Our team partnered with the local churches on the island we visited and while they did not have much and in many respects, could be seen to be lacking by the world’s standards, they were generous with their limited resources and served with joy in spite of the challenging circumstances they faced on a daily basis.
A second more personal example was when my husband and I experienced a tragic loss early in our marriage. Yes, there was grief and sorrow for a season, however, as I read the Scriptures daily as medicine for my soul, the joy of knowing God is in control would override the other emotions that would threaten to consume my mind. It is not that we deny our feelings, rather there is an overarching layer of joy and hope that remains when everything else is stripped away.
Thirdly, in my work, I started a new role in mid-March 2020, by week two I was working remotely from home and by week three I was told my hours and pay would be reduced due to the impact of COVID-19. Despite the uncertainty of it all, communing with the Lord, spending time in His presence would fill my heart with joy and give me strength as I tackled the daily challenges.
Finally, in business, the fullness of joy in the Lord carried me through some changes that I had to make on my entrepreneurial journey recently. Having been running my side business, Art by Ames (a creative studio created to bring hope and joy through modern calligraphy) for about 18 months, there was a shift in my spirit as I felt a tug to move in a slightly different direction. In September 2019, I had found myself on the brink of burnout and realised that the way I was doing life was not sustainable anymore and started to change my lifestyle to start looking my wellness from a holistic perspective. “Living life well” and sharing that with others was what later prompted me to start my podcast, “LIVE LIFE WELL: The Podcast” with a mission to empower the millennial generation to THRIVE and not just survive so that they can live a life full of PURPOSE, JOY and DELIGHT.
As I learnt to navigate the changes, the Lord brought another piece of the puzzle forward for me which was about taking a more active role in coaching others to take a holistic approach to their life and wellness. There was a lot of wrestling as I knew that in order to move forward in this direction, something had to give and I surrendered Art by Ames to the Lord for this season. Through it all, there remained this layer of joy again, having the Lord guide me through the transitions and find peace in taking each step as at a time.
How can we have fullness of joy?
Dear friend, when you look at your own life, can you see the moments when the joy of the Lord has been so full that external circumstances dim in comparison and joy overflows into the lives of others?
If you are finding joy allusive at the moment or your “cup of joy” is yet to be filled to overflowing, here are some suggestions to live life through a lens of joy:
Pursue His presence
If we go back to our key scripture, we see the answer right there: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
The word “pursue” means to follow or to chase. Pursuing the presence of God means intentionally setting aside time to spend with Him. To not giving up even when times get tough.
It may sound simple but, making time to spend in God’s presence and meditating on Scripture will help cultivate an attitude of joy in all circumstances.
Protect your space
Have you ever been feeling so full of joy but then spend time with a person who has chosen to look at life through a negative lens? Or have you ever been scrolling through the news on your phone and found yourself filled with anxiety or worry?
In order to stay in a place of joy, you will need to choose what and who you spend time with. This is not to say that you cut anyone who displays a bit of negativity from your life but it is a gentle reminder that you can choose how much time you spend engaging in content or with people that are more “life-taking” rather than “life-giving”.
Pass the joy
My final suggestion is to “pass the joy”, meaning share the joy you have in the Lord with others. During the first lockdown in Melbourne, our church (like many others) went online and we couldn’t see many of our church family anymore. In one of the online services, we were encouraged to “pass the peace” by sending a short phrase of “Peace be with you” to the people around us and if we received a text like that to respond with “And to you.”
While I’m not necessarily suggesting you send text messages to your friends, “May the joy of the Lord be with you” (though you could totally do that and I’m sure they will appreciate it!), there are many ways we can pass on the joy of the Lord to those around us. This could be in the form of an unexpected gift, sharing a meaningful verse with a friend or providing a service for someone without expecting anything in return. There is always more joy to be had when we give unto others what only comes from the Lord.
I hope these suggestions will help you find the fullness of joy in the Lord this Christmas and beyond.
Amy Leong is a lawyer by day but a creative always. She had been working more than 5 years as a lawyer, had built a creative business she was passionate about on the side and seemed like she had it all together until she didn't. In what can only be described as a "lightbulb moment", Amy realised that in pursuing her career and her passions, other things had been neglected including her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. This started her on a journey towards a more holistic approach to life, (one she us still on) which has transformed the way she approaches life and helped her to BURN BRIGHT but not BURN OUT.
Now her mission is to empower YOU to THRIVE and not just survive so that you can live a life full of purpose, joy and delight = LIVE LIFE WELL. You can find her via her podcast, "Live Life Well: The Podcast" available on Apple Podcasts / Spotify or via Instagram at @_amyleong_ where you can find out more about her coaching practice to empower women on their own holistic wellness journey.
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