Cultivating Joy

November 4, 2021
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Listen while you read: "Work For The Night Is Coming"1 (Lyrics)

I woke on the wrong side of the bed. I had a headache, and had been aroused by its pounding rather than by my alarm. As I reluctantly climbed out of bed, my dog, Scout, bounced around, happy to be awake and alive, and soon to be fed! Her energy wasn't contagious. I shuffled downstairs to let her out and prepare her breakfast, flicking on the radio as I passed. I love this song, I thought, and chanced a small smile on the way to the bathroom. When I opened the door to let the dog back in, a warm breeze followed, bringing with it the scent of the flowers in our garden. The bird nesting at the peak of our roof glided over, carrying a worm to the babies that I could hear peeping above me. I took a deep breath, thanking God for it all, then closed the door and danced to the song on the radio, suddenly—just like Scout—happy to be awake and alive.

All our lives, our fortunes and our moods slide along a spectrum between sorrow's tears and shouts of joy. If we never experienced sorrow, we wouldn't know joy when we felt it, and vice versa. For me, these verses speak honestly of the human condition:

Psalm 126:5-6 – May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. (NRSV)

God created us as emotional beings, with all that that entails. But that doesn't mean that we have to wallow in sadness or anxiety or pain. Life itself will bring us plenty of those emotions, but there are things that we can do to encourage joy to return afterward and to remain in our hearts for as long as possible. We can help others to cultivate that joy, as well!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NRSV)

It is the will of God that we be joyful, and Paul's list of ideas for sowing seeds for that harvest of joy is succinct. In that vein, here are some concrete examples of things that we can do today:

  • Remember a time when God or a friend helped you and the feeling that that evoked. Rejoice over it again.

  • Sing along with a song that makes you happy, perhaps a hymn or a praise song. What joyful times does it bring to mind?

  • Pray, hard, for yourself and others. Meld with the Spirit for a time. The prayer need not be positive; if you are feeling sad or angry or doubtful, share that with God. God created emotions, and He will certainly understand them.

  • Give of your time or talents. Do so to create joy for others, which is more important than creating it for yourself, but your own satisfaction may just be a side effect.

  • Express gratitude to God or another person.

Now, go and garden, sowing those seeds of joy!

Prayer: Creator, help us to cultivate joy in our own lives and in the lives of others. We will rejoice, pray, and give thanks all our lives. Amen.

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About the author:

Kim Sheard <kimsheard@aol.com>
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Thank you for reminding me that.


    Thank you for a beautiful message.


    Thanks for the encouraging words, Kim.


    This is lovely and encouraging, Kim. Thank you.


    All the time God is good. God is good all the time!


    Dear Kim:
    Beautifully said! Thank you.


    Thank you, Kim, what an uplifting devotional, brightens the day.


    Wonderful devotion Kim; thank you for sharing.
    Blessings.


    Awesome. Timely for me. Positive. Thank you.
    (N.S. Canada)


    Thank you, Kim, for sharing this uplifting devotional with us. To God be the glory! Blessings.


    Kim
    Thank you for the helpful hints. The “joy” in a change of focus turns the grumpies to joy.


    Mine won’t be the only heart this great devotional of yours has touched today with truth and remembering! God used you to bless the lot of us. Thank you.


    Kim, thank you for this reminder to be thankful in all things. That is when God gives me true joy.
    ENJOY your day and be blessed!


    Thank you, Kim, for the wonderful devotion today.
    Yes, it’s a joyful day for me and others around me.
    Thank God for his mercy and love.
    (Quebec)


    Thank you. A good start to my morning. We have just tucked the garden to sleep for the winter under a thick blanket of leaves. You encouraged me to get some herbs seeded in a flowerpot as we Manitobans take a break from outside growing. Enjoy today!


    Thank you, Kim,
    Being able to be positive makes such a difference… thanking God at all times.
    I don’t recognize your name, so if you are new, welcome to our Devotional writers.
    Blessings.


    Hi Kim,
    What an awesome Devotional today. I printed it off to read often and to remember the examples you wrote.
    Thanks for your Devotionals, they are such a blessing to me.
    Take care and Blessings to you.
    (Ontario, Canada)


    Thank-you for such a positive posting. I even like to wake up to the sound of falling rain and the freshness it brings, even though I tire of it falling day after day.
    It reminds me to enjoy and give thanks for the good things and good people who inhabit our shrinking world.
    (British Columbia, Canada)


    Hi Kim
    What I loved about your devotional was that what filled you with joy that morning: the warm breeze, birds singing etc. – were all things that so many of us don’t notice.
    To really appreciate God’s blessings, certainly the first step is to recognize them, then to be grateful.
    Blessings.


    Greetings Kim and thank you for this beautiful devotional this morning. Yes, there are so many ways we can appreciate the joy of God’s creations. From your writing you are definitely in a warmer area than we are, as gardening here is definitely over, due to our present weather. However, that doesn’t prevent us from “planting seeds of joy” by showing kindness and compassion to others that come into our daily lives. Blessings for writing and for many joyous days ahead.


    Good morning, Kim,
    I love the title of your devotional. I love your story and how your morning helped to change your mood. I could picture it happening and the smile increasing on your face even though I have never seen your face because the smile was increasing on mine as I read.
    The importance of finding the joy in this world and passing it along to others is world changing. Seeing the best in everyone as Jesus did, can help to fill us with joy.
    Thank you for sharing a list to get our thinking started in the right direction. We can join in your prayer because we all need God’s help to improve us and others.


    Thank you so much for this special devotional I have shared. J O Y is my special word and I love to share it. I do lots of needlepointing. It brings me great JOY give them away.
    Right now as I do before Christmas every year, picture a hanging JOY that can be seen by everyone. I didn’t plan to make so many, have no list of who have one, but it’s many and great JOY sharing.
    Thank you for sharing your story and I will watch for them. May the Lord bless you in many special and surprising ways.
    (So. California)

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