Joy—Christian joy— is “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world” (John Piper). I love that. Joy makes me happy. And it’s so much more than happiness. In Jesus, I can have joy no matter what comes my way.
5. Choose Joy
My latest headshots (taken by the fabulous Ella Brooke of Ella Brooke Photography) were planned out to the tiniest detail. Most folks might not consider a t-shirt as a desirable wardrobe piece for a photoshoot, but I wouldn’t dream of doing this particular shoot without my Choose Joy shirt by walk in love. Why?
Over the last decade, I’ve had the opportunity (over and over again) to learn how to choose joy. Late nights/early mornings and college finals. Personal struggles with body image. Failed attempts at personal success and relationships. Comparison with others in their corporate and financial ladder climbing.
The Bible clearly commands—not suggests, but commands—me to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Neither circumstances nor temptations dictate my joy. How will I choose to respond?
If a blonde with ginormous Hollywood shades in a fancy coupe cuts me off and gestures at me in gridlock (true story), do I consider it an opportunity to be thankful, compassionate, patient, and joy-filled? Or do I choose to respond in like manner and fail at an opportunity to “rejoice always?”
If a loved one dies from a plane crash or cancer, do I choose joy—even while grieving—knowing that they are loved and eternally cared and provided for by the King of kings?
If I fall into—or run toward—sin, feel conviction, respond in humble repentance, and seek God’s forgiveness, do I gladly rejoice in His faithfulness, sovereignty, and amazing grace and mercy? Or do I wallow in a state of self-pity, guilt, and a prideful masquerade?
There are a million other possible examples to throw onto this blog canvas, but the best illustrations often come in odd numbers like 3’s, no?
The Bible is clear. (Am I repeating myself?) Joy is a wonderful emotion and state of being. But it’s also an inferred choice, not an automatic, robot response. How often does it appear as a command? Here are a few examples (emphasis added):
“Rejoice always,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ESV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4 ESV)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
Joy is not weakness. In the face of trials and loss and hardship, joy is a sign of the Holy Spirit working in the life of one who trusts Him fully. Nehemiah 8:10 concludes by saying, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
One of the greatest lessons I’m still learning as I transition into a new decade is this: Rejoice in the Lord…always.