Joy is a Choice

What is joy? We probably all have a pretty good idea already, but humor me for a minute. 

The Bible has “The Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) that lays out plenty of love is… statements. 

There’s also “The Faith Chapter” (Hebrews 11) that starts with “Now faith is…” 

But the Bible doesn’t lay out what joy is that plainly!! I’ve always known that joy is a deeper sense of happiness, knowing that God is taking care of me… but it wasn’t until recently that I learned what joy in my own life really looks like.

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I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my youth minister last summer at church camp. I was miserable. I didn’t feel one ounce of joy, and I felt completely empty. I believed in God, I didn’t doubt that for a second, but aren’t Christians supposed to have joy? I was filled with guilt because I believed I was an awful Christian if I was incapable of having joy in my Savior. 

I remember him telling me that we don’t always feel joy. Then he prayed over me, and that was such a special and touching experience to me, but still, the weight of his words didn’t hit me. 

Joy is not a feeling!! I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, but now the truth is right in front of me. 

Joy is knowing that God is control. Resting in the love and peace that He provides and choosing to let that be enough. 

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” — Nehemiah 8:10

Joy isn’t a feeling, but choosing to have joy often does fill me with peace and a feeling and sense of excitement, knowing that God is so faithful. It strengthens me and fills me, but how do I make sure I have joy?

Joy is a choice. I get to wake up in the morning and choose to remember that God is control. Choose to rely on His faithfulness. Choose to let that be more than enough, and then that joy really does start to strengthen me. 

Some days, choosing joy is easy. But some days, it takes a conscious, concerted effort. One thing I’ve really enjoyed doing in 2016 is keeping a “happy journal”

 This journal was started as a project based on Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”. It’s just a simple list of things that make me smile in a day. For example:

  1. Having a great hair day
  2. Understanding the physics chapter
  3. Sweet texts from sweeter friends

It may seem small and insignificant, but choosing to be thankful, choosing to recognize God’s provison, choosing joy really does make a big difference. I have so many reasons to be thankful and constantly staying aware of them keeps my perspective right and makes life so much sweeter. 

Christians are called to have joy, but not to “feel” joy. I’m going to make this year about choosing joy deliberately. Will you join me?

“Rejoice in the LORD always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” — Philipians 4:4

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