Get serious about your joy. Don’t let chance and circumstance direct your emotional response to the situation,
Get serious about joy and choose in advance how you will respond.
As I have journeyed through trials of varying kinds this month, I have been challenged by the Lord to maintain my joy. No matter what you’ve been going through this month, week, day— you’ve been given the same challenge.
“This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” ~Psalms 118:24 NKJV
Challenge or no challenge, it gets hard, right? I find that it gets the hardest for me as I expect that things (my activities, my work, my rest, etc) will go the way I have planned. The result of the expectation being thwarted by reality is usually a bit of a child like inner tantrum.
I wonder, if all I needed is a different understanding of the way “as planned” really works in this life.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
The Lord would also tell me that my expectation is off to begin with. He sets the expectation pretty clearly.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
A greater trust that, despite the present reality, God has a greater plan that serves a greater good is the key to my shift in perspective for the moment.
Even once the perspective shifts, I can then begin a pity party on the fact that today still is not pleasant and pleading for patience to await the promise. This is where I found myself this past week. Amidst disagreements with my wonderful wife, task lists mounting, exhaustion heaping, began to have concerns arising at work. It was this that sent me into a small little fit. I poked around and saw just an overwhelming amount of difficult circumstances. It was then that I ran to my prayer closet, the bathroom. I went before our father and asked him for peace and joy. Immediately, in my spirit I was reminded that he IS my joy and my strength.
“This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!” ~Nehemiah 8:10 MSG
I realized that joy is a choice. I then began to tell my Spirit that I CHOOSE JOY!
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” ~Psalm 43:5
He also tells us in his word:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~Deuteronomy 30:19-20
I had to not just make that choice when I came to Jesus for salvation, but continually must I choose joy.
“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.” -John Maxwell
I then returned to my desk and then a barrage of email requests for support came my way from a co-worker in a remote location.
My soul literally was like, “Here we go…CHOOSE JOY!” The thought faded as the hits just kept coming and before long I was back in my state of pity. Then it happened; the Lord shot me between the eyes. The co-worker sent her final request and this statement in the email.
“Praise God that He graces us with different abilities to do different things. I hate this part of my job, but I know how you have to deal with this all the time. Thank you for all that you do.”
She continued in following emails to express that not only did she not enjoy this part of her job, but she was also emailing from her personal email because she was working from home, with a broken air conditioner, on her first day of summer vacation.
When I read that it was like I just OD’d on perspective. I was so blessed by knowing that she had an elevated perspective and she brought me up to her level. I began to literally count my innumerable blessings until I felt my soul being uplifted to the place of joy in the Lord’s goodness. What a place to be!
I had chosen joy, so to speak, but it came and went like a passing breeze until my heart became greatful.
Too often we let the world and its rulers dictate our joy. What we really have only been dwelling in is circumstantial happiness. Happiness is a temporary state, but Joy is eternal as is its source, Jesus Christ.
Rest your soul in the eternal.
When your work is gone, joy remains.
When your family disowns you, joy remains.
When you’ve lost ALL, joy remains.
“You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.” ~Psalm 118:28-29
It has been made clear to me scripturally and experientially the key to the joy of the Lord is gratitude. Not just gratitude for all your earthly blessings, not gratitude for the spiritual gifts you have been blessed with, but gratitude for who He is. God is the only thing that will NEVER change, and His faithfulness, love, and mercy are more than reason enough to be THANKFUL.
Tell me about a time most recently, when you realized, like me, that your perspective had NOT been one of gratitude.