This week has really been a test of my choice of Joy in all situations. Jude has really been testing my patience and Charlotte has been teething which makes her upset and cranky most days. On top of the normal chaos in our house, my husband’s car broke down Thursday night while he was on his way to a prayer conference. This is bad for two reason. #1 He needs his car for work and #2 we don’t have money to fix the repair that needs to be done or buy him another car. I found myself in tears this weekend and I allowed the stress of the car and our finances rob me of my joy. I wish I could say that when all of this happened I ran to God and His word and had complete peace and joy in the circumstance but honestly I didn’t. I not only got upset at the situation but I took most of my anger out on those closest to me. I was short with my kids and Brandon and even yelled at my mom right before a baby shower we were throwing for my best friend. Before any of this had started I had begun planning and studying for this blog about joy. It’s funny how God works sometimes. Really putting what I was discovering into practice except I failed this test. Thankfully God is a God of forgiveness and do-overs.
After asking for forgiveness from God and my family I was able to understand more how joy is a daily choice. When life happens and when things don’t go my way, I have the choice to either allow my circumstance to define my character or to choose joy and trust that God is in control. Philippians 4:4 sums it up perfectly.
Always be full of JOY in the Lord. I say it again – REJOICE! – Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
We are to be full of joy all the time, everyday, no matter what. Even when our cars break down and our kids are driving us crazy. Joy is changing our perspective and seeing our circumstances as God sees them. James 1:2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider is an opportunity for great JOY.” (NLT) When you are in a situation where joy may not be your first reaction think to yourself, “What an opportunity!”. This is a phrase we tell our students when we are on missions trips. Usually 2 days into the trip everyone is tired, stinky and grumpy and it is hard to be excited about digging another ditch or singing more songs but it’s in those moments that we tell them “What an opportunity to serve and love these people”, “What an opportunity to share God’s love”. Every situation is an opportunity for joy.
So how do we find joy in our circumstances? We first must recognize where our true joy comes from. Joy isn’t found in things or people. We can be joyful about those things but that joy is fleeting. True, never fleeting joy is found in knowing God. That is where our true source of joy is. We are not joyful because or our circumstances but instead are joyful in spite of them. No matter what our circumstances might be, we must continue to pursue Him and seek His face. It’s then that we will experience true everlasting joy. Psalm 119:1-2 says, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” These are the actions of joyful people. Walk in integrity, obey God and seek Him with all your heart.
I don’t know what your circumstances are. Maybe you are dealing with more than just a car breaking down. Maybe you are dealing with the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one. Maybe you are having financial struggles. Whatever it is, don’t allow it to rob you of your joy. Don’t allow your circumstances define your character. Run to God and there you will find your joy. Seek Him with all of your heart and he will lift you up. It doesn’t always mean your circumstances will change but instead you will find a new perspective and a joy that will withstand anything.
“Joy is choosing to see the goodness of God in the midst of my circumstances” – Stephanie Shouse (Leading & Loving It)