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Joy is a Choice

December 18th, 2015

“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” James 1:2 NLT.

Joy is a choice before it becomes an emotion.

My thoughts and comments today are that “joy is a choice.”

Especially at the Christmas season, make joy your choice. We have a wishful but mistaken assumption that only good things happen to nice people and bad things only happen to people less deserving. Jesus reminds us that “Your Father in heaven gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and on the unjust too.” Matthew 5:45 NLT. Sometimes it seems the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Read Psalm 73:1-17 NKJV.

Just as some measure of God’s mercy and blessing comes upon all without respect to their deservedness, struggles and sorrow are also indiscriminate. The story of Job provides evidence of that. That reality may be disconcerting, especially when you are experiencing unwarranted pain and feeling that your manner of life should have shielded you from such.

Troubling times and situations are inevitable. The Bible is very honest about that. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV. Things may happen because of where you are rather than who you are or what you have done.

James added this practical advice, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let [your faith and endurance] grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character, ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 NLT. Joy is a choice before it becomes an emotion. When trouble surrounds you, your heart has an opportunity to choose joy.

When I visited England and the magnificent, historical castles there, I learned about the “castle keep,” the most defensible and impenetrable place in the castle. It is the place of last resort to which the king and his loyal defenders could withdraw, regroup, and withstand the enemy’s worst attack, the secret place where the king could be safe when the threat was imminent, a place to await reinforcements and from which to mount a counter attack.

You have such a safe place in Christ. “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10 NIV. Get there quickly and abide there confidently. When not spared from the battle, you can remain safe in the struggle. Years earlier, when I faced a troubling church situation, an older, wiser pastor encouraged me, “You’re going to make it! You may not look like much, but you will make it!” His simple wisdom immediately lifted my spirit. I wasn’t worried about a few bumps and bruises nor a battle scar or two; I just needed to know that God was with me and my future was secure in His hands. God had spoken His truth into my heart; I took that opportunity to choose joy.Read Colossians 1:9-14 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to embrace joy, especially when your heart feels overwhelmed.

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