So, I have this shirt in my closet that has a simple saying on it “Choose Joy”. I wear it around this time of year because it has long sleeves and it goes great with some of my fall and winter vests. But joy is not just something we choose; it is something that the bible truly wants us to have and live in. You might be asking yourself right about now how can I have joy when my world seems upside down? How can I have joy in my life when there is a pandemic going on and some of my friends and family members are getting sick? How can I have joy when my kids are home from school or doing virtual or home school? How can I have joy when there seems to be more bills than there is money coming into the bank?
Joy seems the farthest thing away from me right now when I am having difficulty at my job and my relationships are not working right. You want me to choose joy when I got a bad diagnosis from my doctor? I am stressed to the max and you want me to be joyful about that. In the midst of this growing stress, culture tells us the best we can do is push on and chase the next happy moment. These happy moments are temporary reliefs from our mounting stress, and if we’re fortunate enough, they can make us forget about our stress (momentarily). We live in a culture that loves feeling pleasant. We believe stress isn’t something we should feel, and that happiness is God’s plan for us. Right? But happiness is not the joy I am talking about. Joy is the internal satisfaction we feel when we pursue well-being and success, even through great difficulty. It makes us feel better and more positive, but it differs from happiness in that it can be present during difficult times. When you’re going through trials, it’s impossible to be happy. Your external circumstances won’t allow for it. But when you’re going through trials, it’s very possible to have joy. Your internal hope in God can give you the satisfaction to grow through the greatest of trials. Joy then becomes a choice that we make to hope in God and not in our circumstances. Joy becomes an action that then cultivates in our lives and makes us not just feel better but be better people in the long run. Choosing joy and putting our trust in God is not easy but nothing worth having in God’s Kingdom is effortless. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 NKJV