Pursuing wonder helps you notice and connect with God, so you experience more joy in your life. You don’t have to wait for happy circumstances to enjoy yourself. Joy, unlike happiness, is possible in any situation. That’s because joy comes from an awareness of God’s presence with you – and God is always with you. Joy, like each of the fruit of the Spirit the Bible mentions in Galatians 5:22-23, can lead you to encounter wonder.
Thinking back to a time in your childhood when you felt joyful can help you reconnect with what pure joy feels like. For me, that means reflecting on the many times I spent roller skating – either around my neighborhood, or at my local skating rink. I took every opportunity I could to explore the outdoors on roller wheels, or to spin around the rink while music played and colored lights shone across the floor. As I skated, I propelled myself beyond my worries and fully enjoyed the wonder of each moment. All of my senses came alive. No matter what was going on in my life, somehow the feeling of pure joy I experienced while skating reminded me that God was with me. What is one activity from your own childhood that sparked a feeling of pure joy in you and reminded you of God’s presence? How can you incorporate that activity – or something similar – into your life right now?
The activities that we most enjoy are also usually the activities that lead us to wonder. There’s a strong connection between joy and wonder. In Wake Up to Wonder, I mention research that shows how joy promotes awe: When people feel joy, they often experience stress relief, improved decision making, and stronger creative problem solving as a result. All those well-being benefits from joy help them notice and appreciate the wonder around them, leading them to feel awe as well as joy.
Joy is the second “fruit of the Spirit” that the Bible mentions in Galatians 5:22-23. The Holy Spirit helps us develop the ability to feel more joy. So, we can discover joy in every circumstance – even in difficult times. If you’re languishing in a joyless state and need a joy boost, you can ask God to restore your joy. 1 Peter 1:8-9 describes joy as a gift from Jesus Christ, which we can receive through faith: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Choosing joy can lead you to awe by shifting your focus away from your circumstances to God, so you can experience wonder in any situation. Even in the most difficult circumstances, you can find both joy and wonder if you intentionally look for them.
Every day you’re alive is a gift from God to you. So, don’t let any day go by without prioritizing the pursuit of joy. Remember that, even though joy isn’t serious, we all should take it seriously. Joy is important! Make time for fun in your life every day. Break out those roller skates, or whatever else will help you enjoy each day to the fullest.
Here’s how to cooperate with God to become more joyful, and discover wonder in the process:
Ask God to give you his perspective on challenging situations in your life so you can see how they can accomplish good purposes and ultimately bring you joy. Even when you’re weak, God’s strength is at work in your life. Celebrate the glimpses of God’s power you can see.
Understand that if your desires are aligned with God’s desires for you, you will see them those desires fulfilled and experience great joy. In prayer, surrender your desires to God and ask him to transform them into his desires. Since God wants you to value living with purpose over just pursuing comfort and pleasure, place your highest priority on activities that will help you fulfill your purpose.
Relax in the rest that Jesus offers you. Embrace his unconditional love for you that frees you from constantly worrying about trying to please other people. Rejoice in your freedom to live in ways that reflect who you genuinely are.