TEN QUALITIES: Cultivating Joy in the Face of Catastrophe and Suffering

Written by Allan Erickson on August 4, 2015

Given the tsunami of information flooding our minds via multiple channels, and the combined violence and depravity swirling in and through events worldwide, it becomes an art to maintain some form of stability, perhaps happiness, in the face of mounting catastrophe.
Even more extraordinary, the ability to experience joy in the face of the great unraveling.
There are joyful people facing terminal illness, and healthy, wealthy people committing suicide.

What do the joyful have in common?

First, it appears joyful people make a choice to be joyful.  All of life involves choices.  These people insist on being joyful. They know a clean conscience is the foundation of joyful living.  They choose joy, keeping the conscience clean and alive.

Secondly, joyful people refuse to allow circumstances to impair their joy.   They know that circumstances change with the weather; but joy, that is an anchor.  They also know where they came from, how they got here, to whom they belong, and their final destination, all despite circumstances.  They know that they know that this world is not their home.

Third, joyful people do not allow other people’s opinions and emotions to rule the day. Knowing most people trend negative, joyful people tend to avoid others who display anger, hostility and gloom, preferring to encourage one another in joy, in hopes of recruiting more to the sunny side.  Joyful people choose to think the best of others. They work to maintain a spirit of forgiveness and acceptance.

Fourth, joyful people focus on the positive, the upside, the possible, and the constructive.  Joyful people would rather count their blessings and celebrate the joy in others than descend into the abyss of selfishness and pessimism.

Fifth, joyful people are “other oriented”.  This means they are more interested in serving others, listening to others, helping others and encouraging others, than running around making demands and getting their needs met.  There is something magical about being a servant, especially when it comes to cultivating a joyful attitude.

Sixth, joyful people have a child-like approach to things.  They still see the world as a wonderful place.  They trust that all will be well in the end, that certain absolute truths can never be destroyed, chief among them, love, the unconditional, eternal kind.

Seventh, joyful people have learned how to get back up off the canvas.  Everyone gets knocked down many times throughout this life. Part of the secret to a joyful life is learning to get back up and keep moving forward. Sometimes it takes raw courage.  Other times the cheering crowd inspires, but at all times, the Great Trainer is the One who urges the joyful on in the good fight.  Joyful people love to help others up off the canvas as well.

Eighth, joyful people fill their minds and their souls with the promise of the ultimate goodness to come, limiting the amount of worldly filth and carnage that infects the spirit.  At the same time they are not timid about speaking up in the face of great evil, fighting the good fight with an overcoming spirit.

Ninth, joyful people draw energy from the Source of all energy.  They know that surrender is victory, obedience is life, and in the end, the Greatest Power in the universe guarantees evil will be eradicated, replaced by forever goodness.  That realization is energizing!

Tenth, joyful people know that beyond the veil, a paradise awaits for all those who joyfully accept the gift of salvation, marveling in the verse:  “. . . for the joy set before Him endured the Cross.”

Image: http://www.thepiratescove.us/2010/04/19/jump-for-joy-monday-20-images/

Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.