Choosing Joy

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Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

As Christians, joy is a characteristic that should be evident in our lives. The fact that the words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ are used a total of 681 times in the Bible evidences that God wants His children to be joyful. But look around and then look at yourself. Many Christians, myself included, often seem to lack joy and we wonder why.

I’ve fought a lot lately, originally with not being joyful and then wondering why God wasn’t giving me joy when I asked for it. I’ve learned many things in my search for joy (which has been increasingly successful). I’ve learned that there are two main types of Christians who don’t have joy.

The first type just doesn’t care anymore. They have grown accustomed to being snappy and negative. Being joyful is too much work for them, so they remain in their apathetic state and grouch on. They ignore Philippians 4:4 and its order to rejoice.

The second type are searching for joy, but can never seem to find it. They’ve pleaded with God to give them joy, or gone to seemingly joyful people asking for their secrets to happiness. Perhaps they have even become bitter that they have not received the joy they feel entitled to.

The key to joy for both groups is realizing that being joyful is a choice. Make that plural. Being joyful involves everyday choices to be thankful, kind, and much more. Without the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we cannot experience true joy because it is the lack of such attributes that push us away from God. It is impossible to have the joy of the Lord when we are not walking with Him. Therefore, we must choose to ask God to help us be more like Him. With His holy attributes instilled in our lives, joy will naturally spring up in our hearts. Zephaniah 3:17 talks about God triumphing over us with joy. We must also choose in every time of hardship to look for the positive. Like Habakkuk, we must choose to rejoice in time of trial and blindness (in regards to the future).

Another common misconception about joy is that joyful people never experience sadness. FALSE! Everyone experiences emotions, both positive and negative. And there is a time for both. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is “a time to weep” and likewise “a time to laugh”. Romans 12:15 also says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice: mourn with those who mourn.”

So please, don’t be a group one grouch who chooses perpetual sadness or a group two searcher who allows ignorance to turn into confusion. Joy isn’t an overnight institution, but like any other trait, the more you practice it, the more natural it will become. God wants His children to be joyful. Live in His joy and walk in His ways. Choose joy!

By Hannah Balasa