When you think of the word “joy” what do you tend to think of? A circumstance? A person? A moment in time? For me, I can tend to lean more towards those things and like so many others, I base my definition of joy on circumstances, people, and moments of intense emotion. But what would happen if we looked through the lens of joy as the Bible does? Joy as a verb instead of a noun. An action created by choice. Choosing to be joyful.
But it’s hard to actively choose joy, right? We are bombarded with the realities of this side of Heaven as soon as our eyes are opened for the day. Our joy-filled “bucket” which was once overflowing now gets sloshed out little by little throughout the day so that by the end of the day, we are bone dry and empty.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just fill our metaphorical joy “bucket” up, seal it off, and then sit on it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my quiet time with the Lord and have just longed to stay there longer and longer. I’m safe. I’m joyful. I’m comfortable here. It’s easy to be joyful when the pressures of the right here and now aren’t draining every ounce from you! It’s easy for me to be joyful towards my kids and husband when they do exactly what I want when I want, and how I want. It’s easy for me to have a joy-filled life if there are no costly doctor visits, no house repairs, and my work is thriving. It’s easy to choose joy when it’s easy. But has God ever promised easy?
James 1:2-3 shines a light on this kind of endurance of joy.
“Dear brother and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (NLT)
“An opportunity for great joy” What a perspective to have when it comes to living in this fallen world! An opportunity to not let the circumstances dictate what we know to be true about our God. An opportunity to trust Him and to truly walk in faith. I love that James gives us this gentle but firm reminder that we are to count it all as an opportunity for great joy. To live a life as a follower of Christ, we have His everlasting, abundant joy within us. It is up to us though to choose that joy. Every day in every situation with every person we encounter we can choose the opportunity for great Godly, everlasting, abundant joy or we just simply don’t. What a waste of an opportunity to experience some great joy here on earth!
So my friends, what will you choose today?