“Choosing Joy on the Way
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4 (NIV)
One recent morning, I woke to a strange reality. Instead of my usual sunny “Good morning, world!” reaction to a new day, for no good reason I felt dread and anxiety the moment I opened my eyes.
Through the groggy lens of grumpiness I rolled over, grabbed my phone and read a middle-of-the-night text from a friend. The worrisome text only deepened my funk, so I shuffled downstairs before the sun had barely risen to try and find some hope in my coffee cup.
By the time my sweet hubby came down for breakfast, I was on the verge of tears. He wrapped his arms around me in concern and asked, “What in the world is wrong?”
“Nothing,” I sniffled. “Except a hundred little things.”
Guilt immediately tiptoed into my heart, because I have some friends dealing with truly catastrophic circumstances--an unfaithful husband, a cancer diagnosis, a missing loved one--and here I was crumbling to pieces simply because of a few minor problems. What in the world was wrong with me? Even though there was no big crisis, the weight of a list of little things had sunk my soul. Ever been there?
Recognizing my sorry state, I quieted my anxiety long enough to remember a favorite family saying: Choose joy!
In this circumstance, and maybe in yours today, we have a choice to make in the moment. We can either continue to let our day roll downhill, or we can intentionally take steps to turn our mood around. I don’t always make the right decision, but that morning I chose not to park in the pit of grumpiness. Instead I took some wavering strides toward joy.
- I repeated to myself what Paul emphatically commanded God’s people to do in our key verse, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
- I focused my mind on the Scripture I had read earlier. Even though it was noon before I realized that I needed to steer my wayward, negative thoughts, God gently whispered to my heart that it wasn’t too late to start fresh.
- I took a short break to get out into the sunshine for a walk. Despite the fact that I felt like I didn’t have time for it, I knew I needed the exercise and vitamin D more than the check on my to-do list.
- I reached out to a friend to tell her how much I love her. Initially, I began a text to ask for prayer, but on this day I decided it would be more beneficial to concentrate on someone besides myself.
In a few easy steps, I refocused my day and felt the gloom start to lift. I can’t tell you that I switched completely into cheery mode, but I didn’t stay stuck in Grouchyville, either!
This intentional act of choosing joy isn’t just Pollyanna philosophy. It’s actually Scriptural. Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (NIV, emphasis added).
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” (NIV).
God is so good! He not only offers us His complete and abundant joy, God gives us directions on how to choose it. Instead of allowing our emotions to determine our day, we determine our thoughts to shape our day.
He gives us the option, so let’s do it. Choose joy!
Lord, we thank You that You are the giver of joy. If we choose joy and ask You for it, You never fail to fill us. Thank You for such a wonderful gift! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (NIV)
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)