20 June, 2018

Joy is Possible

Maybe it hasn’t come through here, but on Instagram I’ve been sharing often about joy. I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about joy recently and it's seriously exciting! It’s become a theme in my life. But I’ve been using the phrases ‘joy is possible’ and ‘choose joy’ a lot, and I wanted to expand on them. How is joy is possible? What does it mean to choose joy?

Joy seems absent in our world. I realize there are sad and horrible things going on, and it is depressing. But joy is possible despite that. I see people looking down and gloomy, like life is too overwhelming, and this is what I want to say: joy is possible, even here, even now. Even ____ – whatever it is you’re going through. I’ve come to believe joy is always possible, and I want to shout it loud.

And here’s why it’s possible: true, lasting, overflowing joy comes from God. Galatians 5:22 says it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. There isn’t a time God is out of reach; He’s not subject to the changeable things around us. God is always there, joy is part of God, and therefore joy is always possible. But we have to choose it.

God doesn’t force us into being joyful, but every day, in every situation, He gives us that choice. Even if I’m overwhelmed with assignments and things to be done, or I’m discouraged with myself or the people around me, I can still choose to look to God and be joyful. That's what I’ve been learning, and it’s so, so cool. We get that choice! We can live above our circumstances!

I remember the story of Paul and Silas, in Acts. They were thrown into the highest security part of prison for preaching the gospel. They were whipped, and they had their feet locked in stocks – it’s impossible for them to have been without pain. And yet, it says ‘Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God.’ (Acts 16:25) They chose joy despite their circumstances. 

But joy doesn’t always look like fun and thrills, or what we call happiness. Joy might not mean smiling every moment, or dancing throughout the day because life is that good. Choosing joy doesn’t exempt us from experiencing other emotions, but it does mean we have a quiet knowledge that God is, and there’s hope we can rest and rejoice in. Sometimes it feels a lot like peace, being still and knowing God.

For me, choosing joy has looked like pausing in the middle of stressful thoughts to remember I have a choice. It’s reminding myself when unfair situations come up I can be joyful anyway. It’s being tired, but thinking of things I have to be happy about. It’s reading the Word with fresh eyes – just look how awesome God is! It’s also been smiles and hugs with my sister and loud exclamations about some intricate creation or fact. Little things thrill me, and it feels so good. It’s like a mix of contentment and rest and hope, but brought alive. 

So to everyone, everyone, no matter your situation or how unattainable it sounds, this is my message: JOY IS POSSIBLE. I want you to believe it, to choose it, and to experience it, because there’s nothing like it.

10 comments:

  1. I so needed to read this! And wow! I can tell this post is from your heart, and it speaks directly to mine. I've been struggling a lot with choosing joy amongst all the the overwhelming stressful things in everyday life. So I want to thank you for this post! It is so encouraging to me! I love reading your blog!
    -Brooklyne

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    1. Aw, I'm glad this was a timely message for you - praise God! It is hard choosing joy, but don't give up, girl! He will make it worth it. Thanks so much for your beautiful encouragement. xx

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  2. Great post, Jessica! I could feel your excitement for the subject through your writing. Joy has always been something I’ve struggled with and I love how you said, “God is always there, joy is a part of God, and therefore joy is always possible.” - yes!

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    1. Thanks Sarah - it is pretty exciting! :) To be honest, until recently joy was something I didn't think I could have now, right in the middle of everyday life, and it's been hard to change that mindset so I get it! It is a struggle. But with God everything's possible! May we both keep pursuing Him. :) Thanks for your lovely comment, as always. xx

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  3. Exactly!! Oh Jess, this is what God has been teaching me recently as well. Joy IS possible! And I've discovered that when I don't have joy it's because I've taken my eyes off Jesus. When we focus on Him, we find fullness of joy because He is joy. This is a topic I need to search out more fully, and it's so encouraging how God has been guiding us similarly. Thanks, girl. ♥

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    1. Wow yes! It's so awesome to hear you've been exploring this subject as well. Amen - I like that! That's been my experience as well. Joy comes from making Him the centre of our lives. Thanks for sharing how God's been directing your thoughts, and if you feel prompted to share more at any time, I'm eager to hear more about your journey in this area. :) Thanks again for your enthusiastic comment! xx

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    2. And thank YOU for sharing what God has been teaching you, dear friend! I'm eager to study this more, and I'd be thrilled to share thoughts with you in the future as well as hear how God brings joy to your life. =) I'm thankful for you, Jess!

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  4. Excellent post, Jessica. Reading this post immediately reminded me of a book I just read. It's called "Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn't Enough" by Kay Warren. It was an excellent book - have you heard of it?
    Looking to Jesus for joy is hard for me sometimes, but I am so thankful for friends like you that encourage me toward the Lord!

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    1. Praise God, Ashley! :) No, I hadn't heard of it before - it sounds really good! I'll look into it. :) I'm thankful for you too. Stay strong! xx

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  5. I love your summation at the end <3 I know I've been going through some times when it seems like joy is hardly attainable, and it's definitely hard. BUT YOU ARE RIGHT. There's nothing like joy. (and i've often thought about the difference in joy vs happiness too) and joy from Christ is the best thing out there :)

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When you comment:

1. My day will be brighter, my face smiling, and my heart blessed.

2. I’m likely to immediately go and explore your blog (if you have one) to find out more of your amazingness, and return the blessing.

3. I will then attempt to craft a response to you that will somehow fail to convey how much I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness and kindness. I’m grateful for every word of encouragement you give, and don’t be afraid to share some constructive criticism also; there’s always more to learn. In short: thank-you! :)