I hope that today you are filled with joy. If you are not, I hope that you become full of joy! You see, as followers of Christ we have so, so, so much to be joyful for, don’t you think?
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
-James 1:2-4 MSG
A joyful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.
-Proverbs 15:13 MSG
Okay, I have so much that I want to say, so let me see if I can sort it out so that it makes sense to normal human beings. We all go through stinky days. It’s just life. I mean, how would it even be a challenge if life was easy and happy all the time and then we were joyful? Everyone can do that! An atheist could do that. It’s being joyful when things aren’t so great, when your family’s finances are a struggle, when you’ve just lost a loved one, when things go wrong, that is when it counts. That’s when people are gonna look up and say, “Hey, isn’t she the girl that just lost her job and is getting her house foreclosed? How is she over there singing a worship song at the top of her lungs and laughing with her friends? How does that work?” (Completely made up example, by the way!) You know it seems a bit crazy, a bit illogical to choose joy when everything is plummeting, but think about it: When you choose joy you allow your heart to be filled with God’s promises, you smile and are a blessing to the people around you. When you choose sadness, and to let yourself sink into self-pity and complaining you end up becoming a burden to the people around you. And though this is kind of off topic I would like to thank the friends receiving this who have put up with me when I’m trying to be a blessing to everybody else and then just dump all of my sadness and complaints on you because you know me best… yes, you know who you are. I apologize for being a burden, and I want you to know that I really appreciate all the times you have listened to me anyways! OKAY, getting back on topic, you know where joy comes from, right? I truly hope that you do. Joy, everlasting joy, joy that never, ever, ever ends comes from knowing God loves us. Knowing that He gave so much so that we can live. That is reason to ALWAYS to have joy! Maybe you won’t always be happy. Happiness and joy aren’t the same thing. There is always good in a situation too. I remember something from three years ago this month, I feel like it kind of relates. In February of 2015 my amazing and wonderful Grandaddy left this world to join our heavenly Father. It was sad. 12 year old me didn’t understand that cancer and almost a month in ICU meant there wasn’t much hope of him getting better, and that day when my dad told me of course I was sad. I was heartbroken. But then we got to talking, and we were remembering all of the joys that his life brought. All of the memories and the people that he helped. And we were laughing. It felt wrong, to 12 year old me to be joyful after losing someone. Now looking back we were able to be joyful because:
1. My Grandaddy knew Jesus, and had gone home.
2. He was no longer suffering like he had been.
3. He had lived his life well. He had lived a life worth rejoicing over.
My point, which I am really bad at getting into words today, is that, because of God, you can have joy in pretty much any situation. There is always something good that is either in or can come out of ANY situation, and that is reason to choose joy.
Now, since I seem bent on rambling today I will go ahead and go all out: What does choosing joy even mean? (For those of you who know me well I’m over here doing that “thing” with my hands again) Choosing joy is being incredibly thankful for all of the little things! For taking in all of the amazing blessings that God has given you and not focusing on the things that are wrong or the things that you don’t have. Yeah, there will always be things that you don’t have, but what good does focusing on those do? Zilcho. It does you NO good. However choosing to be thankful for the little things, and to be an unrelenting optimist in the Christian sense, that’s going to, for one thing, help others to see God in you (big goal of being a Christian, remember?) My pastor Ruby is a great example. Even when she’s tired, even when she’s had a rough week, she is this amazing wonderful, generally happy person to be around. I admire that, and I know a lot of other people do to. Sometimes she gets sad when she is preaching, but she never loses that sense of joy.
Holy and Might LORD,
You are the God of all good things, you have given us so, so many reasons to choose joy, to choose Your joy. God, you have given us so many reasons to be thankful! You have given us so many bright sides, so many things that are reasons to be happy everyday. You want us to enjoy life, to live in wonder of it everyday. Help us to always remember that. Help us to always choose joy!
So whenever you feel down, or like there is nothing to be happy about just remember what Christ did for you. Remember the life that you have been blessed with, and thank God for it!
-Aubrienna Bernice Carr