Author Archives: Jean Watson

Joy Is a Verb by Jean Watson

I’m not going to lie – finding joy during 2020 was difficult for me. I suspect many of you may have found that challenging as well. For me, it was difficult when the traveling ministry that brings me so much fulfillment was put on hold. I faced new challenges in family relationships and finances, and an unexpected medical challenge brought me to my knees (literally).

As much as I’ve preached and written about joy in the past, last year I was not feeling it. It’s humbling to admit that I just felt sad. I found that almost embarrassing; sometimes leaders struggle to say it without feeling ashamed or guilty. In the middle of challenges and grief, though, I knew that joy was still possible. After all, the Gospels show Jesus as a man who felt sorrow deeply. He wept. He was tempted. He knew hunger, thirst, rejection, and loneliness – and yet he gladly made water into wine to keep a party going! Jesus knew the range of what it means to be human.

Forget the somber, anemic portraits of Christ you’ve seen on funeral home walls. Jesus was a joyful person. We know this because in his final moments with the disciples, the Lord said his greatest desire for them was not that they have strength, salvation, or peace, but that they would share his joy.

In John 15:11, he said to his disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

In John 16:24, he instructed them, saying, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

Then he prayed for them, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13)

Soon to be beaten and pierced with nails for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesus prayed that his friends would be as joyful as he was. The Lord showed us by example that joy isn’t the result of an easy life. He had joy even in the midst of pain, because he wasn’t swayed by what was happening to him. Jesus’ heart was only moved by the heart of his Father.

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven and the very fabric of who God is. In Psalm 16:11, we read, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Yes, Jesus felt pain in his body and soul, but his spirit was always resting in his Father’s love. Joy was the overflow of the constant presence of God within him. In the same way, it is possible to find joy in any time and in all circumstances when our hearts stay focused on the Lord. Our faith makes room for his joy when we are willing to trust God’s purposes even when we don’t understand.

I love how the prophet Habakkuk rejoiced despite the fact that everything in his life seemed to be going wrong.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

and the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

and there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

The word “joy” in that last verse is not a noun – it’s a verb! Though his circumstances were desperate, Habakkuk chose to rejoice in the God of his salvation. He took joy in who God was even in the middle of catastrophe, rather than allowing his response to be determined by the disaster. When we begin to praise and thank God regardless of what we feel like doing, the Holy Spirit is eager to fill us with the joy of his presence and even change the atmosphere around us. 

One of my favorite examples of joy in action is found in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas were arrested in the city of Philippi simply for preaching the gospel. Having been falsely accused, they were whipped and then locked in the inner prison. Though their backs were bleeding and their feet were chained, Paul and Silas chose to worship their God!

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” (Acts 16:25-26)

I weep as I read these words yet again. Paul and Silas were so full in the presence of the Holy Spirit that injustice and injury did not dampen the joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence within them. In fact, the power of God was released through Paul and Silas’ praise; it was so great it caused seismic activity in the earth. The prison gates were jarred open and their chains came loose – not only their chains, but the shackles of the other prisoners who found themselves in jail. In the end, even the jailer and his family were saved, becoming believers.

Paul and Silas received joy in the dark and painful place; they chose to join their worship with the worship of heaven even in those circumstances. They knew that no power on earth could stand against the purposes and goodness of God. I even wonder if, by faith, these men already knew what was about to happen. Perhaps they could picture the Lord smiling and saying, “Wait for it…wait for it!” Notice that the earthquake rumbled and shook as they lifted their voices in praise to God.

Would I have acted the same as Paul and Silas did that night? I don’t know, but perhaps I can learn from them as I face hardship in my own life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for opportunities to be beaten for my faith! But I want to learn to live in the overcoming joy of the Lord, regardless of the circumstances I find myself in or how I feel. I want to be so aware of God’s goodness and love for me that my response in every trial is simply worship.

If you have felt stuck this past year, be encouraged. When we face upheaval and darkness, there is something we can do. We can join our song of God’s faithfulness with the song of the saints, the joy of heaven. We can praise God for his promises for the future, and we can worship the Lord for who he is right now. The Lord is our Shepherd, our Father, our Strength, our Shield, our Shelter, our Rock, our Peace, our Righteousness, our Savior, and our God in whom we trust.

Yes, these are difficult days, but the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) As we boldly lift up his name in the middle of our circumstances, the one who raised Jesus from the dead will surely lift us up. God uses even our trials to do miracles we could not foresee. However painful or lonely your situation may be today, know that you are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with you and within you. Call out in prayer. Sing praises to him! Joy in the presence of the God of your salvation, and listen for the rumble and rattle of seismic shift.

Featured image courtesy Jenni Peterson on Unsplash.

In the Waiting: Prayer and Action by Jean Watson

“My mind is always busy, saying there’s so much to do. I know the things God has promised he will do through me, but sometimes I feel like he’s not moving fast enough, so I need to work harder to make things happen. Often I find myself worrying and striving because I’m not willing to wait on God. We all have things we’re waiting for, but in the end, the timing of God’s purpose is not up to us.”

Today we’re pleased to share this reflection on prayer, action, and waiting from speaker and musician Jean Watson. Her talents as a violinist and vocalist are featured on multiple albums, and she is a powerful speaker. She has also written a book, Everything Can Change in 40 Days. Click play button below to listen.

Jean Watson ~ Letting Go of the Past

“Did you know that God has a plan for you that was established long before you were even born? There is a blueprint for greatness in your spiritual DNA.”  Listen to the link below as Jean Watson encourages us to pursue the purpose God has for us by not being hindered by our mistakes of the past.




Jean Watson: The Power of Thanksgiving

Enjoy this meditation from our archives from violinist/singer/songwriter Jean Watson:

I was born on the east coast but moved to Michigan about 15 years ago.  At first I had a really difficult time adjusting to the amount of snow that falls here in the winter. The area where I live is called the “snow belt” which means exactly what it says! Moisture collects over Lake Michigan which is then promptly dumped in my driveway – every day from November through March! I did a lot of complaining that first year as I slid through intersections as I drove and got stuck on the side of the road. But one day the Lord asked me to stop complaining about my circumstances. He told me clearly that Michigan was his gift to me, and I needed to thank Him for bringing me here.  How could this uncomfortable place that I disliked be a gift? It wasn’t until years later I discovered that this cold icy land would one day be a great blessing to me!

Though I didn’t understand at the time, out of reluctant obedience, I began to thank God for Michigan instead of complaining. Each day,  I determined to find something to be thankful for rather than complaining. I even started to thank God for the things I didn’t like in my life like the snow and cold!  As I chose to give thanks regardless of my feelings, a miracle happened inside my heart. I discovered that the place I had resented was becoming a place where my desires were fulfilled. I was blessed with a job using my music. My children and I found a house to live in that I loved. I was given a beautiful horse to ride. Even my ministry began to blossom through divine connections I never expected!

The land where I did not want to be was becoming the land of my blessing.

Could thanksgiving have been a key to unlocking this blessing in my life?

giving-thanksIn the Bible, the apostle Paul tells us that thanksgiving is not optional. In I Thessalonians 5:18 he said, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Easy for Paul to say, right?  Actually, he wrote those powerful words from a Roman prison where he was living with no sanitation, probably surrounded by rats and fleas! How could Paul give thanks in those conditions?

Perhaps He learned from the disciples who had seen Jesus give thanks before He fed the 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish.  Perhaps he heard how Jesus gave thanks and raised Lazarus from the dead, or how a man with leprosy gave thanks and was made whole! Paul knew that thanksgiving was a way we express faith to the Lord. The word “thanksgiving” literally means “to give grace,” and when we give grace to God, our hearts are prepared to receive His grace and power!

Is there an area of your life where you could use some grace? Today, instead of asking God to change your circumstances, try giving thanks in your circumstances instead. Trust God that He has a purpose for every detail of your life. The very things that are making you uncomfortable could be the very things God will use to bring transformation in you and through you!

Father, forgive me for complaining when things don’t go my way. Help me to be thankful  in my circumstances today knowing that You are working all things together for my good! Thank you that as I “give grace” back to you, I know that You can turn my trials into blessings. In Jesus’ name, amen.