A Portrait of Joy

23 Apr

Joy (Photo credit: realworldracingphotog)

Who do you know that exhibits true joy?

That was one of the questions for our community groups last week.  As we worshipped Sunday, our worship leader relayed what his group had discussed.

It was a portrait of joy we could all relate to… but was it something we could re-create in our own lives?

Because the portrait that his group discussed was that of a…

Joy-filled Child

Can you relate?  You’ve probably seen kids that exude energy and joy.  And yet something happens as we grow older.  We lose that wide-eyed wonder, we become burdened with the complexities of life.

In short, we no longer exude joy… we just leak it.

What is it about kids that makes the wide-eyed and unburdened… so full of joy?


The group discussion highlighted trust.  Funny thing is, until the discussion, I don’t know that trust would have been one of my first choices.  But when I think it through it makes perfect sense.

They trust that they are loved.  They have parents/guardians that will reinforce their love, whether through hugs or words of affirmation.  And because they are loved, they have a place… a sense of belonging.  They have someone who wants them to be part of their family.

They trust that they will be cared for… that their parents/guardians will provide.  And while it may not be extravagant, that child knows that they will have a physical place that is safe and secure.  They know they will have food, clothing, and other essentials to survive.

They trust that the future will be good.  Because they belong, because they are loved and provided for, there need not be a sense of dread about the future.  The kind of love and provision they experience will continue on because it’s not based on whim… it’s based on their loving parents/guardians consistent character.

And because they trust in all these things, they can be...

Fully Present

As the group analyzed what made for the joy people can observe, they realized that perhaps one of the biggest contributors is the ability to be fully present in the moment.  When you know you belong and when you know you will be provided for, your mind is free to be fully present.  There is no part of you that needs to be pulled away so that you can worry about your future!

Are you fully present?  When was the last time you:

  • Stopped and played with a child without thinking about your to-do list?
  • Listened completely to someone else without trying to formulate your answer… before they finished talking?
  • Stared at clouds in the sky to see the shapes of castles, flowers, or giant dragons without checking your watch?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I did any of those things.

I wonder if that’s why Joy seems so elusive?

Objection!  You’re Naive

Maybe… I understand that there are children who don’t have safe and secure places.  I know some parents aren’t loving and are irresponsible about providing for their children.

I know the world gets a lot more complicated as we get older.  I totally get the burdens that come with growing up and assuming responsibilities in this world.

But here’s what else I get.  We are all children of a heavenly Father who:

And he would say that faith like a child is what enables us to experience all this and more (Matthew 18:3-4).

And yes, it would be naive to think this… unless it was said by someone who was well acquainted with what it means to be hated, denied, abused, weighed down… and yet still experienced joy!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” (Heb 12:1–3 NLT)

I don’t know where you find yourself today: struggling to feel loved… not sure you’ll be provided for… uncertain about your future.

But I do know a great Father who wants nothing more than to love you, provide for you, and to take away your worries.  I pray that today, you can be fully present in that relationship

… and that you become a portrait of Joy!

Who is the most joyful person you know?  What characteristics do they have?  What’s the source of their joy?


Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Group Discussion


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4 responses to “A Portrait of Joy

  1. Meagan

    April 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Love this! Thank you for sharing. I witness two toddlers that (mostly!) exude happiness and joy all day long – without reservation. And I never could quite understand exactly why that was. But you have put it perfectly. The other day we were driving down I-45 and my daughter was just exclaiming over every.single.colored.flower she saw. Every time there was a new patch of flowers, she would just scream with absolute joy. “Look, Mommy. Look, PURPLE flowers. Oh, they are so pretty! OH MY!” My prayer today is that I can look around at the “little things” and have that same joy in my heart as she had for those flowers.

    • billhogan77

      April 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks Meagan!

      My kids are older now (as you know), so I sometimes miss those joy moments in the simple things.
      Here’s to being more “kid-like!”
      Be blessed! Bill

      • Meagan Clanahan

        April 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

        Amen 🙂 And Kylee is a blessing. We got home the other day as she was bathing them & I don’t think she recv’d our text that we were on our way. Anyway, it was so lovely & comforting to walk in and be greeted by the sounds of amazing laughter from upstairs from all 3 of them when she didn’t even know we were home. You’ve done well!   Meagan Clanahan Communications Director The River Church 985.788.3367 


      • billhogan77

        April 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

        Thanks Meagan! We think she’s a keeper;-)

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