I could hear my two oldest running upstairs, chasing each other as they faught over a favorite toy. We had to be at Church in a little over an hour and I was scrambling to get supper ready and on the table. My baby was screaming at the top of her 8 month old lungs and my hair was a frizzy mess because I hadn't yet had time to fix it. I also hadn't had time enough to accomplish half the things on my to-do list which was....somewhere. I forgot where I placed the list.
School had gone relatively well, although I can't tell you what we learned because I was in a state of brain fog all day. Actually, make that a week. I was in a state of brain fog all week long.
The floor had crumbs on it because my two year old had snuck into the pantry and pulled out the Ritz crackers, and every mom knows what is enevitable when Ritz crackers are given to any human being under age 10.
I had folded laundry but hadn't put the clothes up yet which was a mistake because playing dress-up is much more appealing to a toddler when there is a stack of neatly folded choices sitting in plain sight with easy access. I had to re-fold laundry, by the way.
I was stressed because I didn't feel organized. I was angry because I had to keep repeating myself to two small people who were determined not to listen. I was irritated that I hadn't had time to do the things I really wanted to do. To top it off, I was scheduled to speak on Finding Joy in just a few short days. Oh, the irony.
Joy is not something that comes easily to me. I do not spring out of bed each morning and throw back the curtins and sing, I used to think that if I didn't act bubbly and happy all the time that I wasn't being joyful. What I have learned, however, is something far different. I have learned that joy feelings-based. It isn't dependant upon my situation or the environment I am in.
And it isn't only for those with a certain personality type either.
Joy is not a feeling, it is a choice. It is not an attribute for those with a cheerful disposition. Rather, it is the fruit of a life settled peacefully in Jesus.
Those worshipping Christ secretly in the unerground Church have joy. The untold numbers who have faced excruciating torture and death met their end with a smile on their face and a song of praise in their hearts. There are those in extreme poverty who radiate the joy of Jesus.
If joy is based on our circumstances or our feelings, then having joy in the midst of pain and suffering would be impossible. Yet it's not.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who was thrown into the Nazi concentration camps during WWI, was giving her testimony at a Church in Munich years after her release when she spotted a man who had been one of her cruel guards. After the service, he came to her not remembering who she was. He had found God's forgiveness and thanked her for her message of hope and love. As he reached his hand out towards her, Corrie felt frozen with bitterness and panic. How could she forgive this man? Yet in her inner tormoil, she was reminded of Matthew 6:15; how if we refuse forgiveness to others, Jesus will deny forgiveness to us. She silently prayed, "Jesus, help me! I can lift my hand. I can do that much. But You must supply the feeling.”And so mechanically, she took his hand. Immediately she felt a healing warm flood her body and with tears in her eyes and love in her heart, she forgave her former guard.
What Does Joy Look Like?
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. He didn't say "in every comfortable situation give thanks" or "give thanks when things go your way." He simply commanded us to continually have a thankful heart of praise to Jesus. Regardless of what my feelings may say, joy is an obedient action to praise and thank my heavenly Father for who He is and all that He has done.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
The heart of God has only good in mind for us. He does not give His second best, but His very best to those whom He loves. Joy is an act of faith that God knows what He is doing. Joy is a constant peace that speaks confidence in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Regardless of painful or uncomfortable circumstances, joy is something we choose.
Joy is a conscious choice that says, “I know God is faithful. I know He is good. And I know that regardless of my circumstance, He has a plan that is for my good and His glory. And so in light of that reality, I choose joy." Philippians 4:13 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.