Why Is It So Hard to Choose Joy?

How do you choose joy when the pain won’t stop and life is getting more complicated? Lisa shares her thoughts.

“I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. (Psalm 27:6b)

My friend Pam Farrel has a motto: “Choose Joy!” Chuck Swindoll has said, “Joy is a choice. It is a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God–that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening, and will happen.”

But how can we choose joy when our world is falling apart? How can I be joyful when nothing is working out the way I had planned? When the pain of your illness won’t relent for a few minutes?

Most of you have heard that Rick and Kay Warren recently lost their son to suicide after a lifetime of suffering from mental illness. This is a family who was already familiar with suffering, as Christianity Today interviewed Kay a year ago and listed her challenges: she has had two different forms of cancer, a daughter-in-law with a serious brain tumor, a premature grandchild, and loved ones suffering from mental illness.

She said, “Suffering does give one an appreciation for joy. . . those who have suffered have been given the opportunity to recognize the limitations of ourselves and to know God in our darkest days.” When asked about her work as an advocate for orphans and those with HIV/AIDS, she responded, “These people are my most powerful joy-mentors. . . . these people, who have experienced tremendous suffering . . . .”

Joy is a choice. And I choose it every day. Well, most days. But it isn’t lasting. It is like the manna that God gave the Israelites, I must choose more of it over and over and over again, throughout the day.

I must try to find the joy when my son is being demanding, when in reality he is worried about something he has no control over it. I must choose joy when I stand up and my knee doesn’t–and I have a million things to do in the next two hours. I must choose joy when the doctor says, “We’ll just order 3 more tests” and that requires energy, time, and money I don’t have.

I choose joy. When you think of that statement, we want to hear it in a sweet, calm voice. Remember, choosing joy takes a warrior and it’s okay to have a bit of a deep growling voice when you say it to yourself. Because you are in battle. One of the easiest things Satan tries to steal from us each day is our joy. And he wins far too often.

“Joy is a choice” is a nice motto. But what Psalm 27:6b really tells us is that it is a sacrifice The KJV says, “Therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.” You can choose joy, but when you do, it is a sacrifice you are making to God. When you are doing something for someone else, you are giving a sacrifice of joy for God.

Prayer: Lord, as I choose joy, choosing not to make those around me suffer for my pain, choosing joy in cooking dinner even though I will still do the dishes, choosing– let me have the joy by giving You my sacrifice of joy. Amen.

How have you given a sacrifice of joy? Do you feel you must choose joy a million times a day to stay patient in your affliction?

If you are trying your hardest to tidy up your life, and it seems like you keep doing it over and over, take a minute to be refreshed by this video, “Can I Stay Here Forever” with Starfield. Enjoy. -Lisa

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