As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
— John 15:9–11 ESV
These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return. You love him even though you have never seen him; though not seeing him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with the inexpressible joy that comes from heaven itself. And your further reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
— 1 Peter 1:7–9 TLB
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ESV
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
— Psalm 16:11 ESV
Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.
— Psalm 16:11 Voice
True confession: I have always been an optimist, a true Pollyanna. I don’t struggle to see the good. I know how to flip the script. That being said, I see heartache. I know that there is evil in this world. I know that life is not fair. I know that all things are not good, but I know that God is. Our Father, our Savior works all things for the good of those who love him. So, when I think about joy, this is a resounding theme for me, and I choose joy.
Just like I have to guard my heart and protect my peace, my joy isn’t up for grabs. We encounter and journey through life with people experiencing an array of things from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Often, circumstance becomes the cause of a person’s mood or disposition. I learned a long time ago that the condition of my heart should be revealed in the way I live and respond. I am a child of God, and I have a calling and a responsibility to let others truly see Jesus in me.
Choosing to walk in truth with joy being the tone of my every step does not mean that my life is without heartache or disappointment. I wish that were the case, but we live in a fallen world. I have bad days. There are people that can get under my skin, and there are times that truly don’t go the way I plan. I face and walk through hard things just like everyone else, but I never walk alone. I am redeemed by Jesus, my Lord and Savior. This world is not my home. I am called to be a light here, but it doesn’t mean that being a Christian is the crazy magic remedy that keeps all icky, ugly, less-than-awesome, horrendous, evil things from coming in my path. Because I belong to God, He alone will shelter me and provide for me. He will leverage what was meant for evil for my good. I don’t have all of the answers, but I trust the one who does. And I choose to listen to Him and trust that He is God. Nothing makes its way to my path that doesn’t go through him first. I may not be strong enough, but He is. I will choose joy, because my hope and peace — my life — is in Christ.
About a year ago, there were days that led to a couple of weeks that had me re-evaluating the cry of my heart. We almost lost my mom. As doctors searched to figure out what was going on, we knew that we were losing her. One day, one of my sisters sat me down to make sure I truly understood the gravity of where we were. I told her that just because I sought the good didn’t make me naive to reality. The biggest truth I profess had to be the truth I walked in. I knew our situation was dire, but I knew that God had a plan to heal my mom. I just didn’t know if the healing would be here or in heaven. My heart grieved knowing that, but I found great joy in the pure love my mom had always shown and shared in Jesus. I worshiped because God had a plan. I prayed differently. I asked that healing would come, but I also prayed God’s will, knowing it may not be the outcome I wanted. God chose to heal my mom here on Earth, and he continues to do so. Not a day goes by without her saying, “I’m still not sure what he has planned, but I know he wasn’t through with me here.” I always tell her that God used you then, and hecontinues to daily because you say yes.
We may never know how God is using us, but I know that he does. Finding joy isn’t nearly as difficult as we think when we set our minds on things of Christ, but we have to choose to seek God and look for the good that He constantly delivers. Perspective is everything. I just hope and pray that God stops me in my tracks and brings me back to center when Satan attempts to use the tiniest of things as a distraction. My heart, my life, my joy, my hope is in Jesus.