Joy is another Fruit of the Spirit where the world views it differently than God calls Christians to understand it. For most people in the world, joy is equated with happiness – if not extreme happiness. This is what is felt when everything is going your way in life.
Joy to a Christian is independent of your circumstances. It’s strongly tied to hope and faith. Because it is independent of circumstances, James could honestly write, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials and tribulations…” (James 1:2) or Paul could write,”For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overwhelmed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
Because children tend to feel emotions deeply, it can be really difficult for them to understand they can feel joy when they feel disappointed, sad or some other negative emotion, too.
Part of the trick with joy is the ability to look beyond the current circumstances. Your children will need to be able to focus on their hope and trust in God rather than being too focused on the negative impact of what is happening currently. It’s not denial. It’s a choice.
Joy has another facet. Read Psalm 119:1-9. Joyful people are those who are people of integrity, obey God’s laws, follow His instructions and search for Him with all of their hearts. Their is joy in truly being who God created you and your kids to be.
Your children can also benefit from learning how to find the blessings in the pain. Often, even in tough times, there are blessingS that God still gives us. It’s helping your kids focus on those good things rather than dwelling on the bad.
Christian joy can be tough at times. For some personality types, it will be perhaps extremely difficult. Children who are naturally more optimistic, will appear to have joy easily. Be aware though, that while their lack of joy may not be as drastic as it is for others, they can still lose some of their joy. They will need practice, just like your others kids with remaining joyful.
So what are some things you can do to help your kids be more joyful? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Count your blessings. Joy has a strong connection to gratitude. Remembering to thank God for your blessings also serves to remind you of how very many blessings you still have. Have a gratitude moment at the end of the day as a family. Have everyone share two or three blessings from God they experienced that day. On rough days, help them dig deep and still find some blessings.
- Cut the complaining. Complaining can become a really bad habit. Over time, it can cause your kids to always focus on the negative. When it gets bad enough, they may end up complaining even on the very best of days. Have a complaining jar. Anyone caught complaining, has to put in a coin or pull out a penalty. Or perhaps they have to say three positive things for every complaint they state. Let your kids catch you complaining and help you break bad habits, too.
- Seek joy. People can be joyful even going through intense struggles. Often it is because they serve others and take the focus off of themselves. Or they give their pain and worry to God. Or they seek out those things that remind them of God’s love for them. Or they read the Psalms until they feel the joy returning. Help your kids find those things that help them be more joyful when it’s a struggle.
- Spread the joy. Even people who aren’t yet Christians can experience a little of that joy when we do things to serve and love them during tough times. Work together to think of how you can also point those people who are struggling to God in thoughtful, loving ways as you love and serve them.
Joy will feel like a wave that crests and recedes many times for your children as they grow. Helping them keep their joy more constant will help also help them face life’s challenges with the joy that comes from their faith and hope in God.