Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Fruit of the Spirit: Choosing Joy

'Count it all joy, my [sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds' James 1:2

Say what?!

Have you ever gone through a trial of some kind and a friend has told you to 'count it all'? If they did, you would think they were mad. The presence of joy in the middle of suffering sounds like a mismatch.

At church there is a woman I know well. She is a woman I admire and look up to. This woman has experienced some harsh trials throughout her life. And while these trials would truly test most people and bring them down, this woman moves through them with an awe-inspiring confidence around her. She knows it is okay to cry. She knows she can grieve. But she does not let the trial overcome her.

When I go through a trial, I am easily torn apart. I lose hope and confidence and feel beaten down. I am sure I am not alone in this. In my striving to lean on the Holy Spirit for my heart-change, this is an area I struggle with. What exactly is joy and what does it look like to 'count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds', as James says in the Bible?

Joy is mentioned throughout the Bible, from David's Psalms to Paul and Silas in Jail. The joy I am talking about is 'confidence in God's grace, despite circumstances- despite what happens' (Elisa Morgan, Naked Fruit). When I look at the woman from church, I see she carries a confidence about her. While she still cries and feels emotions, and maybe even has moments of questioning God, she has confidence in Him. She is a beautiful picture of a godly woman striving to be Christ-like.

This joy that covers her is not a one-time application. Joy is not the wearing of a wedding dress or prom dress once, but the putting on of jeans every day. It is not about feeling good or feeling happy all of the time. Joy is a choice to trust our Heavenly Father that everything is under control.

When faced with a break-up, I can choose joy because there is confidence to know God is my number and I do not need a relationship to be complete. When faced with the death of a loved one, I can choose joy because there is confidence knowing God is sovereign. When a job opportunity is lost, a friendship has ended, or sickness hits, I can choose joy because God has gone before me.

How can I have joy? How can I know the joy the woman at church has? When I wake up in the morning and I am tempted to be grumpy at the world around me, I can choose to rejoice in my salvation, in my hope in God, and in His sovereignty despite what may happen each day. Joy comes from knowing and understanding who God is. Joy comes from turning upwards to God. Joy comes from obeying God's word.

Here's a couple of things I am working on to develop a more joyful life:

  •     Reminding myself of truth by writing out verses to hang on the walls. I have found this to be extremely helpful in many situations. There are times when it is hard enough to open up the Bible and read (sometimes it might come down to my stubbornness and pride). By having already picked out some verses and placing them where I can be visually reminded helps me to remember my secure future in Christ, my identity in Christ, and my freedom. Here are a couple: Galatians 5:1 'For freedom Christ has set me free' (ESV) and Romans 8:1, 'There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ' (ESV).
  • Choose not to wallow. I am more inclined to a melancholy personality, and so I am tempted to wallow in self-pity. Instead of wallowing and feeling sorry for myself, I can choose joy. While I remind myself of God's truth, I need to remind myself it is also a choice to feel sorry for myself. When I am in that place, Psalm 139 is a good reminder of who I am in God's eyes, and who God is. 
The idea of joy suffering in the same sentence may be a mismatch, but it is possible to cultivate a joyful life. Let's daily put on our 'jeans' as we choose to embrace joy. That is a choice worth making.


  1. Definitely agree. Joy is a choice we must all make everyday.

  2. This is definitely something I struggle with. It's hard choosing joy, but it's so worth it!

    1. So hard when it needs to be a constant and daily choice! Thanks for stopping by Adriana!