Athlete, Be Aware When Joy Departs

PLAYBOOK DEVOTIONAL

Athlete, Be Aware When Joy Departs

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Morris Michalski

Galatians 4:15 (NLT)

Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then?

The Golden State Warriors emerged as the dominant storyline of the NBA this past decade. Right? They captured everyone’s attention with their absolutely beautiful style of play and enviable spirit. 

One of the core values that became deeply embedded in their team DNA was this virtue — JOY. What a wonderful way to define team culture!

Like the Warriors, God wants joy to be a core value of those who are part of His family. Over 200 times the word is mentioned in Scripture. But sometimes its presence disappears in us. What causes joy’s departure?

Here’s what God says:

JOY LEAVES WHEN circumstances dictate our emotions. How we feel can’t be solely based on what happens to us. If it does, we become emotionally unstable.

While happiness may abide in circumstance, joy never does. It flies above it, not resides in it. Living in joy is never rooted in outcomes, destinations or scoreboards.

Joy is found in the journey, not the destination; in the total process more than in certain events. Jesus teaches us that joy is found in the discovery of something great, not just the possession of it (Matthew 13:44).

JOY LEAVES WHEN legalism dominates our way of life, when we try to impress God with how well we keep His rules. Painting self-portraits depicting how good and holy we are doesn’t work. 

He isn’t wowed and we are left strangely insecure. Every self-justifying move we make sucks the life out of joy and joy out of life (Galatians 4:8-20).

JOY LEAVES WHEN relationships other than God become the voice we tune to and turn to. Psalm 16:11 (NASB) says, “In YOUR presence is FULLNESS of joy.” That implies that every other voice we listen to will bring disappointment at some point. Every other source we turn to cannot fill our need for joy. 

JOY LEAVES WHEN sin occupies and bitterness grows deep. Joy cannot coexist in the presence of this pair. Sin and bitterness overshadow our spirits and dry our bones. Eliminate these two (Lamentations 5:15-17; Proverbs 3:7–8; Acts 8:23).

JOY LEAVES WHEN forgiveness is neither sought nor found. It leaks out like a car with a bad radiator hose. Forgiveness fills the leak.

Psalm 32 and Luke 15 paint pictures of pain turned to joy. They are painted on the canvas of forgiveness, surrender, cleansing.

There is no sustained joy without forgiveness. There is no joyful restoration without return.

JOY LEAVES WHEN hope gets crushed. The two are related. The greater the hope, the greater the joy. The less the hope, the less the joy. Hope is critical to joy. Fill hope and you fill joy (Romans 12:12; Romans 15:13).

Reflect: How full of joy are you? Is joy leaking out? What might be causing it? Are you living in circumstance, legalism, sin or bitterness? Are you living without God, without forgiveness, without hope? What’s a step you can take today to refill your joy tank?

A prayer to consider: LORD, thank You for bringing me great joy. Help me to not let it depart. I don’t wanna live without this core value. Support me as I take a bold step today to live in joy. By Your Spirit and in the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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