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Thieves Among Us…

BY LEANN DILBECK –

We lock our houses. We lock our cars. We have safety deposit boxes to lock our treasured documents or heirlooms. We go to great lengths to protect our belongings but still, there are thieves among us. They are in our homes, our workplaces, our newsfeed… maybe even our churches. They can infiltrate our inner most circles.

Whether intentional or unintentional, I dare say, we know people who rob us of our time and of our joy. Joy – a word that isn’t used much in today’s society – is defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” So you can find that by simply eating chocolate, right? Wrong! It’s deeper.

People in our culture seem to be on a relentless quest for “happiness” and to that end, use the word happy much more than the word joy. To me, happy is a fleeting term that is briefly lived. It is an emotion that can come and go. Its cousin, joy, for me, encompasses a more eternal place and is not created by our circumstances, people or things. In fact, it is all of those that Satan will try continuously to use to attempt to rob us of our joy! The truth is, you can be in one of the deepest of life’s valleys and have joy because it comes from deep within and from the Holy Spirit. David wrote frequently of joy throughout Psalms as he was being hunted down.

It’s a hard reality when you realize you have joy robbers among you. And to their defense, it may be unintentional on their part. And make no mistake, these thieves are not always the obvious ones… the cranky people who are mean-spirited and easy to identify. They may appear pleasant on the outside but struggle with insecurity and to cope, are very critical of others, or people that you can never do enough for. Maybe they are full of pride and arrogance, have control issues, or are constant complainers who drain the very life out of you because they always have problems. Let’s face it, at one time or another, we’ve all known that one person that simply drains our “joy” bucket.

Always the eternal optimist, I, for a long-time, believed joy was contagious and as long as I maintained my positive keep my eyes focused on Jesus outlook, that I could keep my bucket full but the sad reality is, depending on the circumstances, we sometimes have to accept that the person is simply unhealthy for us. If they are in our newsfeed, it’s a simple fix but if they are in our homes, or in our workplace, or in our classroom, distancing yourself can be more difficult.

But if we take such measures to lock-up our treasured belongings, shouldn’t we also take the same measures to protect our own well-being? We should never say or do anything purposefully hurtful to someone nor should we turn our backs on someone in need, but we must always seek God’s guidance and discernment to know when He needs to move through us to help someone or to remove us from a potentially damaging relationship.

Our joy comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. So even when we have those people that seem to drain our “joy” bucket, we must always meditate on His truths: Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”

The Lord is our source of strength ultimately because human joy lasts only for a time but what comes from the Lord is eternal.

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