3 ways to find greater joy

Smith-Father-Philip-webWhat can we do to be more joyful in our daily lives?

I invite with you to reflect with me on three simple ways we can find greater joy in our lives.

One way to be more joy-filled is to put our trust in God’s power to bring good out of bad situations.

Easter season is a time to remember that God brings Easter Sunday out of Good Friday.

The whole reason Philip was in Samaria in today’s first reading was because of an unjust and evil choice made by a man named Saul in Jerusalem. Saul was persecuting the Christians in Jerusalem with great violence, and so the leaders of the community had to depart from the city. Philip was one of those leaders who had to leave Jerusalem and find a new home.

And yet, God brought good out this tragedy. God used the dispersion of the Christian leaders away from Jerusalem to spread the Christian faith to other peoples. While Saul thought he was hindering the growth of Christianity by persecuting the Christians in Jerusalem, God used this persecution to spread the Christian faith further to other peoples beyond the walls of Jerusalem.

Our Easter faith encourages us to refuse to allow injustice and tragedy to take away our joy. It is important to hold onto our trust that God can bring good out of the evil choices other people make no matter how frustrating they may be to us. We can remain joyful even when life frustrates us because we know that God can bring good out of the suffering we are going through right now.

A second way to find greater joy in our lives is remember that we are not alone.

Jesus said in today’s gospel: “I will not leave you orphans” (John 14).

Jesus promised that he would send us an “Advocate” to be with us always to help us and strengthen us.

An “Advocate” in Jesus’ time was someone like a lawyer, someone you called to your side in a time of need. Jesus promised us a spiritual Advocate, a divine helper who would be with us and stand beside us when we otherwise feel alone and helpless.

We will discover greater joy if we welcome the helping and consoling presence of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, especially as we face challenges and difficult circumstances.

It is important to remember that life was not easy for the early Christians in places like Samaria.

They dealt with many of the same challenges that threaten to steal our joy from us.

They too lived in a time when the world was a scary place. The reign of the Roman government filled the world with fear, violence, and senseless bloodshed. Political turmoil and division were rampant.

They too had health problems. Life expectancy was much shorter than today and many terrible diseases made everyone’s future uncertain.

And yet, these early Christians still managed to live life with great joy. They were able to live life with great joy because they knew they were not alone and that God was with them even though life was often painful for them.

A third way to find greater joy in our lives is to embrace the present moment and to be grateful for the simple blessings of our daily life.

Some of the most joy-filled people I have met are from poor, third-world countries. These people find great joy in life even though by our standards they lack many material necessities of life.

These people are able to experience joy because they do not take today for granted. They are grateful for what they have and embrace the relationships and people who are in their life today. They refuse to allow worries about the future prevent them from making the most of the present moment as they even share with others the little they have today.

Another group of people who I have encountered who are consistently joyful are persons with developmental disabilities. Again, these people with special needs usually have much less to look forward to than others in the future in terms of careers, making money, or social status and yet they are more joy-filled than the people I know who are most “successful” by worldly standards.

People with developmental disabilities know how to find joy in the simple blessings of everyday life. They put their focus on what they do have rather than focusing on what they do not have. They refuse to let worries (especially worries about things they cannot control) distract them from making the most of the precious moments of life on earth God has given to them today.

We will never discover true joy until we are willing to worry less about the future and live more in the present moment.

We will never discover true joy until we are willing to be grateful for what we do have and focus less on what we do not have compared to other people.

Categories: reflection