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Choosing Joy

by HEIDI J. SMITH JOY Balancing ministry, family, & life
Choosing Joy
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
Philippians 4:4

Henri J.W. Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

Sitting around the rectangular tables, women chatted while a white-haired lady stood up. Her eyes twinkled while she leaned on her cane and cleared her throat, waiting for silence.  

In a thin wispy voice, she shared her story of finding Jesus, completing nursing school, and marrying a widower with three children. Her face shone as she remembered the penny-pinching days to the global working years overseas in Africa. 

She wrapped up her story by challenging us to cultivate our relationship with Jesus.

Our church recently laid to rest this sweet saint, yet I remember her testimony given several years ago. Her life radiated the joy of the Lord.

What was her secret?

She rejoiced in the Lord rather than her circumstances. 

No matter what life threw at her, a husband battling cancer to her grandson suffering in a car accident, she trusted God. No problem was too big or small for Him to handle. She chose joy.

In my life, I struggle with joy because I allow circumstances to consume me rather than focusing on the Lord. I rely on my strength to fix things rather than trusting God. As situations change, my emotions follow suit. But as I center myself on the Lord, my joy returns. 

Joy is a choice. 

What is keeping you from having joy?

We can either carry our burdens around inside of us or choose to lay them at the feet of Jesus. One fuels anxiety while the latter brings peace and joy (Philippians 4:6-8). 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

I’m still learning to rejoice in the Lord rather than my circumstances, and I thank God for this sweet saint’s example of joy. May God give us the grace to choose joy every day.

Closing Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our constant joy. Thank you that you never change and nothing surprises you. Please help us to look to you rather than our circumstances. It is easy to depend on our strength and wisdom, but please help us to trust you. Please give us the grace to choose joy every day. Amen.
Question for Reflection

What is keeping you from having joy? How can you refocus on the Lord?

Heidi J. Smith
May 03, 2021

My self-reliance and busy schedule distract me from abiding in Christ. I tell myself that I have to do things or they won’t get done. I try to fix everything myself rather than relying on the Lord’s strength.
I refocus by prioritizing my relationship with the Lord. I take my burdens to the Lord and then renew my mind with Scripture. It sounds simple, but it is hard to do. I have to choose Christ first to have joy.

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