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Why Choose Joy?

Perhaps you’ve seen this little meme on social media — posted by one of your overzealous snow-loving friends. You know the type. They welcome an incoming storm as if it were Santa toting a bag full of goodies. They get goose bumps at the latest Doppler images and celebrate predicted snowfall accumulations like kids on Christmas morning. There’s no such thing as too much snow. It always brings them joy.

Most of us would hardly use “joy” as a descriptor for a winter storm watch. We don’t rejoice at the idea of digging out after a blizzard. In fact, “joy” isn’t a word we use very often outside of the Christmas season. We may not have donned a full Grinch suit and planned our attack on Whoville yet, but a joyful spirit is not our natural inclination or the “cool thing” these days. It’s far more trendy to be snarky or protest anything that doesn’t meet with our approval. We get outraged with the latest political shenanigans… fired up over internet comments… even miffed when fellow church members don’t share our views or preferences. So as believers, this elusive joyful spirit is a most important concept to grasp.

Joy is mentioned all over Scripture, and it’s meant to be an essential piece of our lives. Joy is God’s gift to us — and it’s also our response to God’s gifts to us. Think about your own holiday gift list for a moment… How would you feel if your gifts were not met with appreciation or joy?

In Philippians 4:4 the apostle Paul writes, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” It may be difficult to find true joy in the world around us, and our surface-level expectations will never be fully satisfied. But true joy in a believer’s life isn’t dependent on worldly circumstances. Notice that Paul doeesn’t say, “Be full of joy in the Lord when everything goes our way or meets with our approval!” Rather, he reminds us that we should always be characterized by joy. And apparently knowing that we would find this difficult, he emphatically repeats his encouragement: “I say it again – rejoice!”

So as we seek a more consistent spirit of joy in our lives, perhaps a good mindset to remember is the simple snow-lovers meme mentioned above. That is, we may not find joy in _____________ (our nation’s political situation, our jobs, our relationships, the snowy forecast, or the hustle and bustle of the holidays… fill in your own blanks). But allowing those things to steal our joyful spirit won’t change the situation; it will just leave us feeling less joyful.

We choose joy because it’s a state of contentment, confidence, and hope that only comes from God, and that’s something we can all experience. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 1 Peter 1:8

Joy to the world, the LORD has come. Let earth receive her King!

– Ron Reid

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