Cultivating Joy


By Gina Manskar

Our companion, guide, and comforter on the great journey into joy is the Holy Spirit. At the outset, it is the Spirit who inspires joy when grace has opened us to receive God’s word. When life’s perplexities impoverish us, it is the Spirit who, working through the gift of joy, removes all boundaries to our hope. —John S. Mogabgab Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). While we pursue and enjoy happiness through our circumstances, sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough. The joy we receive as Christians can carry us through challenging times, lifting us up and giving us perspective. Joy is brought to life in us by the One who gives us life.

We can open ourselves to joy, cultivating a soul-environment where it can take root and grow. Here are some practices to help cultivate joy.

Gazing on Christ

  • Hold Christ before your awareness, allowing yourself to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2). Take time to reflect on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and to share time with others who are doing the same. Look for glimpses of Christ in the world.

Practicing Gratitude

  • Look for something for which to be grateful each day, no matter your circumstances.
  • Give God thanks.
  • Let others know how grateful you are for their presence in your life.

Sharing Joy

  • Share yourself with others in a spirit of support by offering kind words, encouragement, hope, and time.
  • Be on guard for the times that you are tempted to squelch the joy of others through bitterness, jealousy, or unforgiveness.

Allowing the Unknown

  • Even when you don’t know what is ahead, allow uncertainty to exist, trusting in God’s grace.
  • Ask Christ to walk with you through the voids in your life.
  • Be of service to others during these ambiguous times.

Reframing Your Experiences

  • Watch out for the times when you limit your view of joy’s possibilities.
  • Consider whether the difficulty you are experiencing or the suffering you are enduring might be a place of encounter with Christ, “the light [who] shines in the darkness” (John 1:5).

Keeping Hope Alive

  • If you feel your hope is fading, connect with others (a pastor, spouse, good friend, mental health professional).
  • Seek out scripture that reminds you that you are God’s beloved.
  • Share both your positive and your difficult feelings with God in prayer.

“Even now,” writes Doris Donnelly, “in the middle of calamity, crisis, unfinished business, brokenness, pain, and indifference, rejoicing is to be.” May the Holy Spirit help us discover the joy of knowing God’s love and sharing that love with others.

Gina Manskar is editorial assistant for Alive Now. A native of Minnesota, she has lived in Nashville for sixteen years with her husband, Steve. Their son, Noah, just graduated from college with a degree in journalism.

Credit: "Cultivating Joy" by Gina Manskar. Copyright © 2015 Alive Now. From July/August 2015 Alive Now. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room.