Through Jesus I Can Choose Joy - Part I (by Nicole Boswell)
Joy is a choice.
Author Gary Henry says, “With regards to joy, the first thing we need to know is this: Joy is not the same thing as happiness.” Happiness “is what we feel when what is happening is pleasant. Joy, on the other hand, results from the way we think. Happiness is a feeling, joy is an attitude. It’s the contentment that comes from trusting that which Is trustworthy – and the excitement that comes from doing deeds that are based on that trust.” Biblical joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is a feeling that comes about as a result of something that happens to us.
The first example that comes to mind when I think of joy is what the Bible says about Jesus in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
What was happening to Jesus? He was in the process of being murdered. Jesus was not happy about being beaten, tortured, humiliated and hung on a cross to die. Yet the writer of Hebrews tells us that He had joy. How could this be? Joy must be something deeper than feelings. Feelings come and go based on what is going on in our lives. But joy is deeper than those feelings. Joy is eternal and can NOT be forcibly taken from us. The Jewish Christians in the context of Hebrews 12 were having their faith tested. They were being persecuted. What is it that would help them (and in turn help us) endure persecution? It’s not happiness that would give them comfort and strength to endure. It’s not the thoughts of pearly gates and streets of gold that would help them endure. It’s God and His promise of peace, love, pain-free bodies, and the hope of being surrounded by all things God & His love that would help them endure.
James 1:2 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Is God telling us that we need to be happy when we face trials? Are we to become sadists (enjoying pain and suffering)? No! He is telling us to invest in the attitude of joy. Our joy must be deeper than any feelings of happiness. That, my friends, is how we will get through our various trials in the most Christlike way.
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this series, that are sure to help you choose joy!
Photo by Adrien Olichon from Burst