Choose Joy

One of the things that I really appreciate about God is his joy, and that he gives it in all circumstances. I think the joy of a Christian can be a very attractive thing to the world. People are caught off guard when they see a person full of joy in the midst of a very hard season. “How can this person be so happy when they are going through such difficult times?” The answer is easy: God is good, all the time.

God is so much bigger than our current circumstances

In a world which is full of negativity, anger, and depression, seeing someone who is truly joyful is a breath of fresh air. It’s a powerful thing. Joy has the power to turn sorrow into laughter, although it doesn’t mean the hard times go away. Rather, it means that God is so much bigger than our current circumstances. This realization can express itself in joy. This powerful joy only comes from the Lord, and we all have access to it. Somedays joy comes easier than other days, but that doesn’t change the fact that God is still the source of this joy.

I don’t necessarily think of myself as a joyful person, but people often describe me that way. I’m usually taken aback by this because I know my life and the thoughts that are in my head. I do know that I really love to laugh, and have fun, but until recently I never really thought of it as joy.

Recently someone told me that they believe I am a person who chooses joy, even though I don’t have to. I have been thinking about this comment, and have concluded that it’s probably true, I do choose joy. That doesn’t mean that I never experience other more negative emotions (just ask my close friends and they will tell you that I can be a “Debbie downer” when life gets hard). I don’t think God wants us to be “Debbie downers”. I think he wants us to choose joy and experience his joy in both good and bad circumstances. We can all experience God’s joy and, most of the time we actually need to make an active choice to be joyful no matter what is going on around us.

Everyone should discover their own ways of choosing joy, but here are some of the practical ways that work for me.

1. Make a list:

I take pauses throughout my day to make a list (mentally or physically) of all of the things I am thankful to God for in my life. The top three usually don’t change, but the rest can vary in order. Here are my first three:

Jesus – He took my sin, allowing me to have an active relationship with God. Sin was the biggest problem in my life and God took care of it.
Family & Friends – God gave me some amazing people to live life with, which is pretty awesome.
God’s Provision – I am always amazed at the fact that I can pay for my rent, bills, and gas despite having a job that I volunteer for.

2. Taking a moment to enjoy the little things:

My “little things” change daily, but I always try my best to really enjoy them throughout the day. Here are a few of mine:
• The smell of Montana in the spring and summer. I can’t describe it, you just need to come experience it
• A fresh cup of coffee… mmmmmmm
• The smell right after a fresh rain
• Thunderstorms
• Kids laughing
• Humming birds: I love to stop and watch those things, they are pretty incredible
• Full moon rising
• Stars

3. Sit and think about the promises of God:

Take some quiet time or make a list to think about throughout the day, there are SO many promises that God makes to his people. Pick a book of the Bible, start reading, and sooner or later you’ll come across a promise from God. The cool thing about God’s promises is that he actually fulfills them. They are not empty and they aren’t just words. They’re promises from a loving God who wants to be in relationship with his creations: us. God is the only one to be trusted with making promises and keeping them. They come in his timing, but they will always come.

4. Laugh anytime you can:

The only thing I could do in that moment was laugh

Laugh at life, yourself, and with others (not at them). They say laughter is the best medicine; I don’t know who “they” are, but I tend to agree with “them” because, seriously… life is funny, humans are funny, we do weird things, say weird things, and we have really funny things happen to us. For example, my group of friends and I love to scare each other There is nothing better than the victory of jumping out from behind something or sneaking up on someone and scaring them. The best is the reaction of the person who got scared. I’ve witnessed many high pitched girly screams, and usually that’s from the guys. There was even a moment when I was the victim of being scared by one of my very good friends, not only did I scream bloody murder but I fell completely backward and landed flat on my butt. The only thing I could do in that moment was laugh, and laugh I did throughout the rest of the day every time I thought about it.

5. Dance:

Yes, dance: dance when your favorite song comes on, dance in the car, dance while you clean, dance while you cook or do the dishes, dance by yourself or with people, just DANCE! Dancing immediately makes me happy, it doesn’t matter if I am with people or by myself. Dancing, in my opinion, is an expression of freedom and joy. So, dance. Dance like you have never danced before. When you are having a bad day, blast some Michael Jackson, and dance. When you are having a good day, do the same. If you don’t like dancing, I don’t care, try it. If you love dancing, do it some more!

Choose Joy

Our joy is a gift and witness to the world

There are probably many more things that I could add to the list. Those ones are the top five things that I find myself doing on a regular basis. They don’t always happen in this order, but each one of them helps me be more joyful. We have so much to be joyful for, God has done too much for us to be miserable. God promises to meet us in those hard times and help us. Our joy is a gift and witness to the world: it shows people that God is bigger than a hard circumstance, and that our God is a God who meets His people and gives them joy. Joy is attractive, contagious, and refreshing. Choose joy. God gives his joy freely for us to experience.

Ready to make the jump.

At YWAM Montana-Lakeside, we are all about doing whatever it takes to know God and to make Him known, together! We’d love to help you make that next step in your global missions education. Apply now!

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