In the past few weeks, I have had many reminders that joy is a choice . . . and that joy is not always easy.
This is a lesson that sometimes has to be taught to children. My kids have now been in school for three weeks, and a couple of mine have had bad attitudes about some of the work they have to do. They don’t like their vocab. They don’t see why they have to write so many essays for health. I remind them that they can decide to have a bad attitude or just get their work done. This is life. We might as well go through it and decide to do it with a good attitude.
Martin Lloyd Jones said:
We all desire to be happy. That is something that is innate in human nature; nobody wants to be miserable, though I am aware of the fact that there are people who seem to enjoy being miserable and some who seem to find their happiness in being unhappy!
I know I don’t want my children to grow up to be unhappy when they should be happy! This is a learned condition of contentment. Paul says so in Philippians 4:11: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
We have to teach our children to be content with what they have. That God has given them everything they need, and so much more. They can be happy, and they don’t need to complain. One way that we can teach this condition of contentment is by modeling it; therefore, we must make sure that we are not complaining and that we are content with where God has placed us and what He has given us.
However, sometimes, life is hard. Terrible things happen to good people.
Our Sunday School lessons the past couple of weeks have been on trials and temptations. At the same time, our family devotions have been on choosing joy. One night this past week, my husband read in our family’s devotion a short devotional called “The Choice to Be Happy.” While he was reading the devotional, I was thinking of my friend who lost her husband last year in an unexpected accident, and then just lost her main helper to an unexpected massive stroke. This lady that died helped her take care of her four young kids, was considered to be “grandma status” by her children, and gave her the encouragement and strength she needed on the hard days.
Can she choose to be joyful during this trial?
The devotional went on to quote some verses:
- My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (or trials) James 1:2
- Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
In an earlier devotion about choosing joy, the author says,
All good gifts come from God, including joy. But God still invites us to participate in receiving His gifts and blessings through our own free will. We can’t save ourselves, but we must say yes to salvation. We can’t walk worthy of His calling on our own, but we can say yes to His strength through simple obedience. And we can’t force ourselves to be joyful. But we can say yes to God’s kind and delightful offering by saying yes through our attitudes.
Have you chosen joy for your life? For today?
So in the day-to-day disappointments of life where we want to complain, we need to instead choose contentment. In the trials of life that seem to overwhelm us, we need to purposefully count it all joy. To go to God’s Word and rejoice — even if we don’t feel like it. In fact, Paul stresses this in Philippians 4:4. He says, “again I say, Rejoice!” Hard to do? Yes. Impossible? No! Because whatever God commands, He also gives us the strength to do and the Holy Spirit to aid and succor. He promises His peace when it seems like our hearts should be troubled. Do we avail ourselves of that peace is the question?
I choose joy.
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.
I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
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