It’s chucking it down today. Pretty standard for this time of year in the UK, but I still find myself moaning about having to leave the house and do battle with the wind and rain. This morning – half way through my ‘can’t I just stay at home?’ whine – I remembered Hea Woo. She was imprisoned in a North Korean prison camp for her faith but says she was always thankful for the rain. The harder it rained the happier she was. Why? Because that was the only time when she was free to sing hymns to God without being overheard. Wow.
Hea Woo reminds me that the secret to joy is not in having all the things you long for, it’s about realising how much you already have. Sometimes our time, our hearts, and our prayers are focused on the things we want, that we can miss out on everything that’s already been given to us.
The secret to joy is not in having all the things you long for, it’s about realising how much you already have.
How many times do we come away from church thinking of the things we didn’t like, critiquing the worship leader’s song choice or the illustrations of the speaker? Wouldn’t we be happier if we came out of church thanking God that we have the freedom to meet with our Christian family and openly worship Jesus? We never have to worry about who is watching us on a Sunday, making sure the worship is quiet so we’re not overheard, second guessing whether the person in the seat in front is spying for the government and if we’ll pay a hefty price for meeting with our church family.
I read a book recently that encouraged me to spot all the gifts God is giving us in our everyday lives. If we only thank God for the big things, we’ll be missing out. Instead we should look at all the small moments that make up our minutes, our hours, our days and ultimately our lives. That’s the key to deep joy. It’s right to thank God for all that he gives us, it’s how we’re told to pray (we present our requests with thanksgiving Paul tells us in Philippians 4 ), and it helps us shift our perspective from the things we feel we’re lacking, to the many blessings we already have.
If we want to find joy we’ve got to stop thinking it’s wrapped up in the big, shiny things of life. The little things are the big things. Joy isn’t about what we have or don’t have. Joy is a choice. If we start to notice the little things, we start to get happier. We don’t have any more but we recognise all we already have.
Even in the hardest circumstances there is always something to give thanks for. I want to learn from my brothers and sisters who are persecuted and yet find deep joy in the small moments, in the times they can meet with another Christian, can sing praise to God, can hear from God’s word. Let’s shift our gaze. Let’s still ask God for the big important stuff, he cares about that, but let’s thank him for the little things too: someone giving you a lift so you didn’t have to walk in the rain, a friend sending you a text that made you smile, eating your favourite food, watching a great box set, getting into a warm bed on a cold night, laughing with your mates… start and you’ll realise the list of all the small things is virtually endless.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.