Why is it so easy to dwell on the negative? The things in life that are not going well or turning out as we hoped. The bad weather, the promotion that never happened, the person that cut us off this morning on our way to work. Whether big or small it seems like our brains default to focusing on the bad rather than the good.
I’m not talking about pessimism vs. optimism, cause let’s face it sometimes life gives us lemons and we don’t feel like making lemonade. I’m talking about choosing joy in the midst of hardship, grief, sadness, pain and circumstances that we don’t understand. Why? Because “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10b) His joy is your strength.
Joy. That three letter word contains a lot of power. But what is joy? What does it mean? What does it look like? Joy is not happy “feelings” because we all know how temporary and fleeting that emotion can be. I love the way Rick Warren puts it:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God is every situation.”
Joy is trusting that God is in control. Joy is placing all confidence in Him. Joy is determining to praise God in every moment. No wonder the enemy works so hard to try to stop us! And guess what? Joy is already in your “spiritual” tool belt. God has given us full access to His joy, all we have to do is choose it and watch as that choice transforms the way we live our lives.
When we actively choose joy in a situation that doesn’t seem so joyful, I believe we are able to see God’s fingerprint on even the hardest moments of our lives. Why? Because we have that assurance that God is in control and because when we choose joy we are choosing a different perspective. Is it hard? Yes. Will I always want to choose joy? No. Will I ask God every day to help me to choose joy? Yes.
I want to see the beauty in the storm. I want to see the wonder in all His creation. I want to trust, even when I don’t understand. I want to choose joy. Choose to praise. Always. Even when it’s hard. One day at a time. I choose joy! Will you choose it with me?
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
Psalm 5:11 (New Living Translation)