Everyone has thought of living a joyful life. But "joy" carries a different meaning from person to person: some think that "life is short, be merry now", and some decide to "see through life itself, and not wish for more". Pastor Liu Tong from the Silicon Valley River of Life Christian Church recently shared with the community "The keys to a joyful life" at an annual charity gathering organized by the River of Life Foundation.
Pastor Liu pointed out that changes of the external environment do not necessarily bring us joy. Joy in fact comes from training in life, and is a result of a change in the heart. He shared the four keys to reaching a joyful life. First is to have a thankful heart. Having a thankful heart will make one open his/her heart to not think too much about the gains/losses or successes/failures at hand. There are many things in life that man thinks that they can gain through their own talents and abilities, and therefore they think that these things should come naturally. But without God's blessings, man cannot gain anything. Pastor Liu has been preaching in Africa many times, and has experienced the poverty in these third world regions. They do not possess much, which, in contrast to North Americans who have many things, serves as a reminder that we should be thankful for what we have.
Besides, we should thank our family. Our smooth everyday routines have become a part of our lives as the norm. For example, we have clean clothes to wear every time we open our closets, because our mothers have worked to put them there. The reason why our mothers can do these chores everyday is because of love. The relationship between husband and wife is similar. Many middle-aged couples start complaining about their spouses being "not like the old times". Pastor Liu, who has counseled many families, pointed out a wise theory: "of course things have changed and are not like the old times, for God has given us the present, and we should be thankful for the now, and not think about how the past was, which is no longer of importance."
The second key to a joyful life is "affirming of self". One who does not give weight to God's precious values will always compare oneself with others, and will often compare with one another. These people will not be joyful. Pastor Liu encouraged us that God made everyone a unique being, and that everyone has his/her own talents and expertise. The term "success" does not depend on how wealthy you are, but on how you express your talents and expertise.
Thirdly, Pastor Liu said that "giving is more blessed to give than to receive," and this would let us enjoy a joyful life. We have to learn to give and sacrifice in life. Pastor Liu used the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee in Israel as examples to illustrate this theory. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee comes from the same source, but why is the Sea of Galilee inhabited by so many types of fish while the Dead Sea is salty and smelly and will not allow growth of any life forms? The reason is, the Dead Sea is an inland sea with an entrance and no exit, and the Sea of Galilee, in comparison, has an entrance and an exit. Life is similar, in that one cannot continually receive, but needs to sacrifice as well if not more. Pastor Liu pointed out that many successful entrepreneurs and artists have become selfless philanthropists eventually. This illustrates that wealth and status alone cannot bring satisfaction, and only in the act of giving can one find life's value and meaning. When we share our lives with others, we will discover that not only will we not lose, but in turn will gain many blessings.
Fourthly, "choose joy". Pastor Liu warned us to not let our emotions guide our lives. In this day and age, many people carry a mist of cloudiness over their faces, and often speak about sad things. This really hinders interpersonal relationships. Bad things seem to happen one after the other to these people. Pastor Liu quoted form the Bible, using the example of David, to illustrate that "joy can be a choice". When David felt sad in his heart, he spoke to his heart: "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God". (Psalm 42:11) He did not follow the sadness of his heart and be sad. Jacob 3:10-11 also said: "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" When our mouths are full of complaints, we cannot speak words of praise. From this, one can see that joy is a choice.
Pastor Liu pointed out that joy starts from the heart, and then the mouth will be full of praise. When a person is joyful at heart, his/her work will be smooth, and interpersonal relationships will improve. Finally, Pastor Liu encouraged the community to participate in the Foundation's activities, since the more you give, the more joyful you will become, the more value and meaning of life will be revealed to you, and the more blessings of God will be gained.
[Editor's note: Carol Lee translated the report.]