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El Simchath Gili, God My Exceeding Joy

"Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And I will praise You on the lyre, God, my God" (Psalm 43:4 NASB).

A menagerie of life clings to the birdfeeder out the window. A chickadee makes way for the red-bellied woodpecker, and a nuthatch clings to the bottom rung of the metal feeder. I can’t help but think of the creative joy of the Lord when I admire the variety of birds outside. He is my Exceeding Joy, and watching the birds opens my heart to give thanks for his goodness.

Have you experienced exceeding joy lately? Maybe you experienced it when you watched a dream come to fruition, while belly-laughing with your best friend, or as you looked into the eyes of a precious child.

God wants us to learn to know him as our Exceeding Joy, and here is the best news: The Lord, our Exceeding Joy, has promised never to leave us or forsake us (see Deut. 31:6). This means his joy is always available to us!

Psychologists refer to joy as a supra-emotion. This means we can feel joy while also feeling other emotions. Have you ever had the unique experience of realizing that despite a difficult and emotional situation, you felt joy in tandem with the troubling emotion?

God has designed our brains to be transformed by joy. For this reason, we can experience his joy while also navigating sadness, despair, and other negative emotions. In these moments we discover that the joy of the Lord truly is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10).

Lastly, knowing God as our Exceeding Joy is the gateway to transformation. Neuroscience shows that character is formed through attachment, not willpower. In other words, we become similar to those with whom we share deep, bonded attachments. These attachments are formed through a specific sort of interaction: Joy-filled interaction!

Knowing God as our exceeding joy enables us to form a closer attachment with him, and this attachment is the foundation for transformation in our lives!

Are you ready to break your bad habits, embrace your calling, bear the fruit of the Spirit more consistently, and carry the love of Christ into the world around you? Ask God to reveal himself as your Exceeding Joy this year. Spend five minutes every morning meditating on his goodness, his provision, and his love for you. Ask him to fill you with his joy. You will emerge transformed!

Prayer of A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) to

El Simchath Gili, God My Exceeding Joy