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Discovering Joy

I stood in line while the store echoed a mellow contemporary tune. Excited to continue the intriguing series, I clasped a thick paperback book in my hands. As the way cleared to the checkout counter, I noticed the clerk, a young woman with brunette hair tossed in a bun. I stepped up to the counter, placed my book down for purchase, and greeted her.

“Hi, how are you doing today?"

Glancing up through drooping eyelids, she responded, “Fine, how are you?” Her voice a groan.

“Good, I was surprised how much I liked this story. Have you read it?”

“No, I haven’t. Will that be all for you today?” she inquired as she quickly scanned and bagged the book. I detected her indifference to participate in conversation had nothing to do with me.

“Yes ma’am,” I replied with a relaxed smile.

Perhaps she just did not want to be at work, tired of the persistent tasks required. I couldn’t help but feel I could relate to her though. There was a time when that same droopy expression was constantly plastered on my face. I often received comments like, What’s wrong?, You’re prettier when you smile, and Cheer up buttercup! I told them, “I’m fine, this is just how I look”. I did not understand why others expected me to smile when nothing occurred to make me smile. I thought I was fine, but the truth was I didn’t know true joy. I didn’t know Jesus.

You have turned for me, my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. -Psalm 30:11 NKJV

Without the promise and purpose that a relationship with Christ provides, life is empty. I remember feeling a constant yearning for more. I spent my time grasping for anything that promised satisfaction, only to find that it did not last. I shifted through trades, aesthetics, circles of people, and life goals in attempt to find my place in the world. Still, between the vanishing high of various happenings, life seemed meaningless and dreary.

It was not until I came to know Jesus that I discovered His consistent love, my unwavering worth to Him, and a purpose that permeates through anything I may do. He restored me, giving me the joy of hope in His name. Now my joy is not contingent on circumstance but is everlasting, provided by the One who was and is and is to come. No matter what the day may bring, I always have a reason to smile. When expectations fall short, when life seems repetitive or redundant, I will fix my eyes on the one to whom I belong.

Christ Jesus is my ever-present Joy.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. –Psalm 16:8-9 ESV

My heart breaks for the clerk from the bookstore. The brief interaction we had left little opportunity to tell her about the Joy Jesus provides. All I could do at that moment was to be kind and share the smile Christ gifted me. Although the moment passed swiftly, my thoughts and prayers for this girl would continue for weeks. I trust that Jesus will pursue her as He did me. I am thankful for the reminder that His Joy transforms and that God can work through even the most insignificant moments.

Maybe you have had a similar interaction where there really wasn’t an opening to have that conversation, but witnessed that empty yearning for Jesus. Moments like this emphasize the importance of abiding in Christ every day. If we rest in the joy He has provided us, it will not take much for them to see His light through us.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. -Mathew 5:13 ESV

When I think of what it means to be salt, I think of salt's ability to transform everything it touches. According to the National Institute of Health, salt is found to improve the perception of thickness, enhance sweetness, mask chemical off-notes, suppress bitterness, and improve overall flavor intensity in food. If we as Christians consistently operate from the Joy of Hope, every moment will be transformed into something extraordinary. What may have been dull and lifeless brightens with new color and meaning. The Joy of the Lord will highlight the goodness that is all around giving others a glimpse of His glory. The simplicity of our kindness, smile, and joy will carry the power of Christ, aiding the Holy Spirit to guide the lost home.

Remember to prioritize firsthand Bible reading every day, only the Word has the power to transform. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

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