“Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” —G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Been joyful lately? I’ve decided to intentionally look for the joy – and make it my own “gigantic secret” for getting through tough times.
Does that mean I plan to be happy all the time? Not exactly. Happiness is dependent upon circumstances—our emotional response to experiencing something good. But circumstances change often. Joy, on the other hand, is a choice we make, regardless of circumstances.
Joy is the attitude that no matter what is going on around us, we can be peaceful inside by connecting with the bigger picture of God’s great love.
It’s not fake happiness; it’s bolder and more daring. It’s staring right into the face of hardship and saying my God is still good and anchoring your heart in that truth. It’s being thankful there is always joy to be chosen, thankfulness to be spoken, and that God’s goodness cannot be broken.
Eugene Peterson always said that joy has a history. When we choose to remember some of the great things God has done for us, we are filled yet again with joy. Our joy is nurtured by knowing that what was characteristic of God’s provision in our past is also available to us today and into our future. Why would God suddenly stop being present and powerful with us?
“This joy is not dependent on our good luck in escaping hardship. It is not dependent on our good health and avoidance of pain. Christian joy is actual in the midst of pain, suffering, loneliness and misfortune.” —Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
But how can we choose joy when life turned out so differently from the way we had hoped?
It is in those very places the enemy of our soul seeks to steal our joy. Bitterness, anger, brokenness, and frustration can become strongholds that give him access to our heart. Dwelling on the “if onlys” and “shoulds” cloud our perspective as they take root. That’s why we choose instead to focus elsewhere: “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces” (Psalm 34:5).
Today, as you seek balance in your own life of both sunshine and shadow, look for the joy!
Lord, I’m a great one for fluctuating emotions based on circumstances. Happy when things go well, sad when they don’t. What I really want more of is that permanent joy that sticks around no matter what is happening or not happening. Thank You for that. Amen.
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit bring you comfort and strength, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2021 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
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