"you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to." Deuteronomy 12:18
Before you read this post and want to punch me in the face..."hear" me out...there was a time that the title of this post probably would have had me clicking that little "X" in the top right corner of the screen too.
I had a conversation once with someone close to me who confessed that he had not ever felt "joy". He was baffled by it as he is someone who prays fervently and reads his Bible regularly. I would even go so far as to say he has a great relationship with the Lord. This conversation has stuck in my head for a long time now and I just keep rehashing the conversation. I really feel that God is convicting me about joy, and choosing joy in ALL things."
First let's talk a minute about what joy is. Joy is much different from happiness...true joy is not dependent on circumstance or situation. It is a feeling of peace and rejoicing in the Lord EVEN in the face of some of the toughest stuff this life has to offer. Happiness is temporary, fleeting, it does depend on circumstance. Happiness is not bad, it is just not the same as joy.
After this conversation I thought long and hard about joy. I thought about times in my life when I felt the most "joyful" and here is what I have learned about joy. I believe that joy is a choice. Each day we can choose joy or we can choose to let the world around us determine the state of our heart. The times I have felt the most joy, have also been some of the hardest moments of my life. It is my experience that when we are experiencing hardship and the whole world is crashing down all around us, and we draw near to God, joy can be found even in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
That is not to say that joy is easy to come by and that is not to say that joy means we put on a fake smile when things are hard and just pretend everything is fabulous. It means that we choose to believe that even when it all seems out of control, He is in control. It means that we choose to rejoice in knowing that NOTHING can separate us from the love of our savior. Times get tough, life is hard, but God is bigger than all of it and we can find peace in knowing that there is nothing in this world that happens that He cannot redeem for His glory. It is especially in these hard circumstances that we can be a testimony to His goodness by choosing joy.
The words "I will choose joy" are written in several places around my house. Throughout the day as I do some of the chores that are not my favorite, I look at those words and remind myself that joy is a choice. As I am wiping up the bathroom floor for the tenth time in a day, (seriously, we should do humanity a favor and teach boys to sit down to use the bathroom haha!)I am reminded to CHOOSE joy, as I pick up toys for the millionth time in a day I am reminded to CHOOSE joy, as I pick up dirty socks that somehow landed NEXT TO the hamper instead of inside, I am reminded to CHOOSE joy. We are to choose joy in the small things and in the big. This is all easier said than done. For me it is a constant battle.
I feel God constantly calling me to CHOOSE joy. I do feel joy. I just don't think joy is this magical thing that just takes over when you accept Christ. I think it is a choice. I think it is really hard sometimes, it is an act of obedience really. Choosing to let go of worry and choose joy even when you don't see a way out of your situation is hard, BUT if we truly trust Him at His word, it only makes sense. Rejoicing in Him in the good and the bad is what we are called to do.
So tell me, do you know what it is to feel joy? What are your thoughts on the topic?