How do you choose joy when you are tired, afraid, frustrated, angry, etc.? Joy is in such conflict with each of these feelings. And yet, isn’t joy supposed to be a huge part of the Christian life? These are questions I have faced a lot in the last several months as God has begun the process of teaching me just what choosing joy means. I just want to take a few moments and share with you some of the things I have personally been learning about joy.
First of all, I need to establish what joy is not. Joy is not merely “staying positive.” While maintaining a positive attitude is certainly a great thing to do, positivity can be so fickle. If you have had a hard enough day, you won’t really care what your storm cloud’s silver lining is. Joy is also not another word for happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances. If you stub your baby toe on the corner of the table leg, you probably aren’t happy in that moment. If you’re having a wonderful day and then your baby has an explosive diaper on you while you’re out and about, you likely are not very happy anymore. Joy is so much bigger than positivity and happiness.
Joy is God Himself! Psalm 43:4 says, “Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy [emphasis added]: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.” Nehemiah 8:10 ends by saying, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” When you choose joy, you choose God over everything else, despite your feelings and circumstances, no matter what. Choosing God means that joy can be permanent because God never changes.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. [emphasis added]”
Joy is choosing to trust God. It means opening your hands in surrender to the Almighty Father and letting go of your sense of entitlement to be in control, acknowledging that His way is best and His purposes are best; it is accepting whatever He has for you knowing that whatever He sends your way He sends in His all-encompassing love.
“ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [emphasis added], that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Joy is the peace that comes from trusting God. When you choose God and look to Him for joy and fulfillment, when you leave your life in His hands and accept His will for your life (no matter how difficult it seems), you will have peace knowing that your best and God’s glory will be accomplished, and that God has your messy life all under control.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.”