It’s easy to fall into the cultural narrative, mimicking what you’ve heard like a mina bird…saying what you think others expect to hear. We say so many things without really thinking, filling empty space in conversation with empty words. Often, in our attempt to make a point or agree with a point, we say things that are so untrue, unwise and frivolous. We do so without crucifying the flesh, without taking our thoughts captive, and thinking on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. I really think that if we did these things before we speak, we’d probably have a lot less to say and we’d learn a lot more.
One thing we all hear daily is trashing on 2020, wishing it away, as if it was the actual calendar that delivered an apocalyptic year of unfortunate circumstances. Did 2020 really do anything to you? Will a New Year’s Eve party, followed by a plate of cabbage and black-eyed peas remedy the situation in which you find yourself?
I heard someone say – a professing follower of the Christ, mind you – “There is nothing about 2020 for which to be joyful.” This is an incredibly painful incite of professing believers in churches today. That statement demonstrates a real lack of regeneration (rebirth/new life) and Holy Scripture power through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We will never find joy in a year. We will never find joy in a holiday. We will never find joy in a relationship, a child, a house, a car, a job or a hobby.
John 15:11 ESV These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Psalm 16:11 ESV You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
James 1:16-18 ESV Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Our joy comes from Jesus. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of God who takes up residence in each regenerate follower of Jesus. Pages on a calendar cannot remove joy. Bad relationships cannot remove joy. The list of what you can’t afford or have or what you have lost cannot remove joy.
James 1:2-4 ESV Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Psalm 16:1 ESV Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
So why is it that so many believers are missing out on joy? Let me say this as a parenthetical, I don’t believe that a person without Jesus can have true joy or contentment. Sure, there are many without Christ who find temporal pleasure, satisfaction and happiness in circumstances, relationships, themselves…just like many followers do. But these are fragile, fleeting and often fraudulent and it sets us up for disappointment and even despair when it disappears. I know…I’ve experience this many times. But if Jesus is the giver of true, lasting, impenetrable joy, then only those who know Him can have it. So how does the follower of Jesus find joy? Ask.
James 1:5-8 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
How does one navigate through a season like we’ve experienced in this year without losing their joy? Well, first of all, let’s be honest and say that it isn’t completely packaged into one calendar year. Much of what has robbed the church of joy this year was brewing months and years before 2020. It’s not just a virus that just came on the scene in March. The virus is just the catalyst that revealed the pig beneath the lipstick, the stink and emptiness inside the white-washed tomb. And if we’re transparent, it’s not going to disappear on January 1, 2021. So, how do we navigate through combative and confusing times without losing our true joy?
James 1:12-15 ESV Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
If Jesus is the source of joy, and He is unchanging and everlasting, then the source of our joy never changes. Jesus is constant. The Holy Spirit’s presence is constant. We forfeit joy when we forfeit His presence and His power, His provision and His protection. We forfeit our joy when we look inward instead of upward. We forfeit joy when we place our faith in what is temporal rather than what is eternal. We forfeit joy when we feed the flesh instead of mortifying it. We forfeit joy when we starve our Spirit of the things of God.
If we are going to have joy, truly joy, then we have to look behind the gifts we enjoy when days are easy, look to the God who gives them. And when days are dark we have to look beyond our painful circumstances to the God who loves us and strengthens us.
To find true joy you must look to the Lord Jesus, find beauty in His character, fall in love with His work, stand in awe at what He has done for you and the future you have in Him. In Him we have joy inexpressible, especially in the midst of trials and temptations.