Have you ever wondered at the seemingly audacious words of James 1:2?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
Really? Consider it joy? Yep, that’s what it says.
Or how about the astounding perspective that the apostle Paul seemed to maintain throughout his ministry to the churches, even while suffering in prison in chains?
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Philippians 1:12-14
Doesn’t it just seem crazy, or at best unattainable? Even on my best days, I can hardly imagine a life that is filled with joy. There always seems to be something that seeks to rob me of my joy. And perhaps, therein lies the problem.
Joy can’t be stolen, it can only be surrendered.
Since joy is a choice, one can also choose to give it up. I believe our mistake is that we have confused happiness with joy. The problem with that is they are two very different things. Happiness is dependent upon happenings. Joy can be had despite them.
But our culture instructs us to rush after every single thing that even hints at the possibility of more happiness. One thing I’ve learned in this foolish pursuit is that much of what I’ve run after, if not all, is temporal, meaning it doesn’t last. There’s a high, but then it’s gone, and along with it, so is my happiness. Joy, however, lasts because it’s not dependent upon circumstances. Joy is a choice, one that you and I can make today. It’s a matter of perspective. I can guarantee you that Paul wasn’t happy to be in prison. He didn’t like the feeling of hunger, torture, and mistreatment. He did, however, consider it joy because his position was serving to advance the message of Jesus Christ.
What daunting circumstance are you facing today? What has caused you to forfeit your joy? Allow me to deliver some good news to you, today. All you need to do is stand up and take it back. Joy is ours for the taking when we choose to pursue Jesus instead of self. Joy is about perspective and not circumstance. Choose to see the good in the thing that keeps knocking you down. If nothing else, it’s giving you a chance each time to get back up on your feet.