Chapter 2: Joy!

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 29). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

God is alive, well and working through this study. Lives are being touched in wonder filled ways!

Let’s pray…

Dear God, This world is a scary place but also a place of wonder and excitement. You have created a situation where we can make the best of it… or not. Wisdom is a gift from You. Please give us light in our dark. Please make joy accessible even in the haste of our lives. When Satan kicks in with feelings of confusion or hate… let us know your love. Let us choose joy. Amen.

I would like to study two words as we venture into Henri Nouwen’s introspective and inspiring insights.

Reactive – re·ac·tive

  1.  showing a response to a stimulus.
  2.  acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.

Proactive – pro·ac·tive

(of a person, policy, or action) creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened

Solomon was arguably the wisest person in the Bible. His proverbs have an overview, or a macro-view time after time. As life comes at us 100 mph hours these days, we may need to slow down the tempo. Stress, during these end days, needs spelled with capitols… STRESS! We can’t always control what gets thrown at us. This may be from the world, from family or friends. We can control, with God’s help, how we react and how we move forward. We have to live, and we have to die. Other than that, the rest is how we join God in surviving… and even thriving. Joy is not a wish, joy is a gift! We must find and choose to open the package! As hard as it is, look at the macro-view and be released from the micro-view. Fasten your seatbelts, we may be in for a bumpy ride… BUT HAVE FAITH!

In reflection, keep in mind these weekly thoughts…

Is there any one idea that really reached me?

What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?

What is God revealing about me in this reading?

Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?

Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?

Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.

Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?

What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?

These questions are meant to be like a can opener… cutting through the lid and revealing the contents!

More specifically, for this chapter:

We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 28). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

How does this insight resonate with you?

If you were to explain this to another, what words would you choose?

The great challenge of faith is to be surprised by joy.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 33). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

If you were never looking for a gift, who would know to open it?

Is joy a dream, wish or thought… or a gift to be noticed, opened and enjoyed?

‘Reader’s digest had a column titled “Laughter is the best medicine”. In funeral services, laughter and crying are closely related neighbors. Do children, or anyone for that matter, think before they laugh? Not so much! Time stands still when a person is laughing… in many ways ‘Laughter can be the best medicine! (a gift?)”

The last chapter talked about a candle in darkness. Feedback and discussion brought this contrast to life. I envisioned a candle (God’s love and mercy) during a nice day that was quickly turning to dung! My day was saved… and at night I thanked God for blessings!

What are your testimonies of God turning bad to good?

What are the differences between “thoughts and happiness”… compared to “hope and joy”?

Boxers hit the point when they are exhausted and being beaten. The are “up against the ropes”. Consider when you’ve felt “up against the ropes”.

Was God there when you called?

How does the event feel in hindsight compared to how it felt with foresight?

I look forward to the insights and perspectives as we stumble forward in this world preparing for the next!

Please feel free to share, you don’t know who or how much you help when you share your testimony!!!


9 thoughts on “Truth & Consequences…

  1. I agree with all of you! I think we can have joy by letting God into our lives and from that comes
    happiness. Have you ever been around someone who is grumpy 24/7? After a while that rubs
    off. On the other hand being around someone who is happy and has God’s joy in their heart,
    brings joy to us. God does shed his grace on us. During hard times from what ever is going on
    in our lives, Gods grace brings us closer to him and strengthens our relationship with him which
    in turn brings us joy. It is hard to shut out the negative aspects all around us. One must
    strive to try to do that. We have stopped watching the news and find we feel better for having
    done that.

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    1. I feel the same way you do on so many levels! While it pays us to filter out so much negativity, it’s comforting to know that God is with us… even in the midst of it all! Jesus showed so much wisdom praying “Lead me away from temptation, and deliver me from evil!”!

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  2. A couple of thoughts have been rolling around my head for a week so I must be needing to share! The terms “Old and cynical” and “young and naive” seem like opposites. At times, it can feel like our modern world can feel like a grind or a marathon. Two negative hurdles to jump are commercialism and people’s personal quest to manipulate others.

    Commercialism is at work 24/7 telling us we are “not enough”. If we only buy things or give them our money, we can be made complete. Thus, in this world, there are people who are implanting cues to light up cravings, driving a response to buy happiness. I think God wiring us for joy has nothing to do with “things”. Satisfying relationships with God and others drive joy. Realizing our love and acceptance drive joy.

    The other area seems to happen in family dynamics. This often hurts the worst! It’s our fallen nature to quest for power and control. Thinking about it, these are the characteristics that dropped Satan from heaven! Anyways, it seems power and control often happen within families. Sadly, some who have been raised (or manipulated) to feel like they are “not enough”, feel like “they are enough” only by controlling or diminishing others. Because this can be a family tradition, techniques are modeled. Again, realizing God’s perfect love and acceptance drive joy.

    I hated for this conversation to sound negative! Actually, I was praying that by recognizing hurdles we share, we can focus towards the God intended way of being. This way of joy was modeled in the Garden before the fall and is the way of heaven. Since God’s kingdom is here and now, we are empowered to jump these hurdles and CHOOSE JOY!

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  3. I had two thoughts this week on our current chapter. They both have to do with “choosing joy”. Remember Mr. Rogers? He told the story of how he was upset one time about some tragic event. He was choosing to look at the negative in the situation, but his mother wisely counseled him to “look at the helpers”. Think about it, even in our little area, when something tragic happens to a family….they almost immediately get swarmed with helpers. It’s God in action….how can that not bring joy to your heart. But you have to “choose” to look. The other thought I had was social media. I’ll spare you my “soap box” thoughts….but nobody can deny the huge negative impact social media has on our minds. It can be downright awful if we let it. But you have “choose” what you allow to seep into your mind. I choose to read the posituve, uplifting posts. To celebrate with someone over a happy moment in their world….(not to mention my prayer list grows in leaps and bounds). And I choose to scroll very quickly past the negative and ugly posts. It’s hard and sometimes I get sucked right into the negativity without realizing it. I think the author was pointing out that every minute of the day, in every circumstance, we have to literally make a mind choice to look for the joy. And that’s my thoughts after a full pit of coffee! Would you believe I gave you the abridged version of my original post! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok…..and apparently I had happy fingers…I see a few typos. That’s “positive” and “pot” of coffee…not pit. Lol

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  4. It can be hard to distinguish between happiness and what the author is describing as joy. It might help you to consider the song written by Horatio Spafford. This song it is well with my soul was written during a time of great personal tragedy. With God’s help he found a way to be well in the mist of his tragedy. Happiness can be a fleeting emotion. Joy can be realized from God during the most desperate times.

    https://www.staugustine.com/article/20141016/LIFESTYLE/310169936?template=

    Click on the above link if you want to read about that song it is well with my soul.

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    1. I am having a hard time understanding about joy. But I think what he is saying having joy in your heart that comes from God is there to be with you doing hard times. So you can have joy in your heart and able to deal with the sadness. Joy is a gift from God. Don’t know if I got this

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      1. I also think joy with God is always there were happiness can come and go depending on what is going on and your life

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