Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

choose joy Archive

Friday

14

September 2018

Hope Reflected | Choose Joy

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it." (Henri J.M. Nouwen) | Read more at hopereflected.com

Choose Joy

Joy can be found in many places

While many people believe that happiness and joy are one and the same, I’ve often said that happiness is a feeling and joy is a choice. One of my favourite quotes is about joy: “We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

The notion to “choose joy” suggests that joy isn’t so much a feeling as it is a choice or a habit that we purposefully develop. While you may not be happy, you can still choose joy. While happiness resides temporarily in your heart and relies solely on your circumstances, joy indwells your spirit and can be yours at any time so long as you make the choice.

C.S. Lewis once said, “no soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.” Lewis also said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me ‘happy’.” Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed the path to Easy street. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from challenges. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you’ll always be “happy”, but it does mean that you’ve got a relationship with the Creator, and you’ve got direct access to the One Whose arm can move the world.

Mentioned more than 165 times throughout the Bible, joy is a fascinating thing. Joy, when we choose it, can arm us and equip us with many blessings. Joy can be found in many places.

  1. In God’s presence. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) When was the last time that you sat and just revelled in God’s presence? We often get caught up going through the motions of our morning or evening devotions and telling the Lord what we want from Him through prayer once or twice a day that we miss out on the simple delight that comes when we stop to enjoy His presence. It’s in His presence that we can experience the fullness of joy.
  2. In sorrow. “Make me to hear joy and gladness;” (Psalm 51:8) This verse continues, “…that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” That’s heavy. David (yes, David as in David and Goliath, that David) wrote Psalm 51 at a very low point in his life. He had an affair with a married woman (Bathsheba) whose husband was away at war. And what happened? Bathsheba became pregnant, and to cover his tracks, David ultimately had her husband Uriah killed at war. The prophet Nathan called David out on his sin, he repented, and that’s the backstory to David penning Psalm 51. In the midst of his sorrow, David asked the Lord to make him hear joy and gladness. And the Lord heard him. David’s testimony isn’t the only place we read about finding joy in sorrow or hardship. In James 1, we’re encouraged and reminded to consider it “all joy” when we experience trials, because it is then that our faith produces patience.
  3. In creation. “For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (Psalm 92:4) There’s something to be said about the experience of enjoying (to find joy in) the outdoors and God’s creation. Every morning before the sun rises, I can hear the birds singing for joy outside my window. Joy can be found in taking a walk and breathing fresh air, or in planting and tending a garden. There’s a quote about gardening that says, “he who shares the joy in what he’s grown spreads joy abroad and doubles his own.”
  4. In the morning. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Lamentations 3:22-23 says that, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Along with the Lord’s mercies, joy comes in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, I can appreciate this may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. There’s something about the quiet of a new day dawning, an opportunity to start over, and a fresh perspective that makes joy that much easier to find.

Nehemiah 8:10 provides the reassurance that, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” If you’re truly seeking after joy, God will give you strength. And it is only in God that your joy will be full (John 15:11).

Originally published as “Choose Joy.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. April 12, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

Tuesday

22

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Encouragement | Hebrews 13:5

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

Be content with what you have. Hebrews 13:9 | See more at hopereflected.com

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

It is so easy to lose sight of what we already have by looking across the grass to what we think are greener pastures. The truth is though, that the grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greenest where we choose to water it.

When I find myself feeling discouraged or discontent, nothing puts me in check quite like taking an inventory of all that God has blessed me with. We can’t experience true joy until we learn to be content with what we have, and the biggest part of that is giving thanks to God.

The things of this earth will pass away, but we are promised from God that He will never leave us for forsake us. Even when you feel like the whole world is against you, God is with you. No matter what happens or what you do, He will never leave you, and He will never forsake you.

That alone is reason to rest content!

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

Monday

3

March 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Jumpstart Your Joy

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Hope's How-To, Published Work

Choose Joy quote by Henri Nouwen

Having a consistently positive attitude can be incredibly difficult, especially when it’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day circumstances. In my latest column for The Minto Express, I discuss ways to jumpstart your joy, and get on the road to a more consistent, joyful heart attitude.

The winter can be a difficult time, with the shorter days, grey skies, and cold weather. (Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, people!) I don’t think I’m alone when I say that there are definitely days when hibernation seems like it would’ve been a good idea.

So what can you do to jumpstart your joy? The great thing about joy is that it’s a constant, and a deliberate choice you get to make each day: Joy is not dependent on your present circumstances or your mood, because true joy comes from within. Joy is something that starts with your heart attitude.

You might think that jumpstarting your joy could be the happiness you experience when you buy a new pair of boots, or that feeling you get when you score some cute clothes at an incredible half-off sale at your favourite store, but here’s something many don’t often think of: Joy and happiness are two entirely different things.

Happiness by definition is a state of well-being or a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Joy (which comes from the word “rejoice”) is to be glad and content. Happiness is always the result of a circumstance or something happening around you, whereas joy is the consistent, content heart attitude that is unaffected by your surrounding circumstances or happenings.

For example, if you have a really bad day at work, or you get a mustard stain on your favourite white skinny jeans (hey, it happens), or you receive disappointing news – you wouldn’t be happy, right? But, throughout these circumstances, you can still choose joy. It doesn’t mean that you walk around with a dopey smile on your face all the time, it just means that you have perspective, and that your source of contentment comes from inside, not from outside.

Some simple ways to jumpstart your joy:

  • make a list of the things that you’re thankful for in life
  •  forgive someone who’s wronged you
  • volunteer with an organization that helps others
  • provide for another’s need
  • listen to a friend
  • pray

Do you see a theme with jumpstarting your joy? One of the key components of joy is putting others first. When I was younger, there was this song we used to sing in Sunday School, called, “JOY” and it was an acronym for “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third” And that’s totally true. When you stop looking in, and you start looking up and out (by putting others first), the results are powerful and can have major impact on your life.

There’s a quote by the writer Henri J.M. Nouwen that gives some pretty sound advice: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Choose joy!

Robertson, Hope. “Jumpstart Your Joy.” Minto Express 26 February 2014: 5. Print.