Consciously Choosing Joy
What does it mean to choose joy? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately…
It’s been a big year. Just within the past two months, I got into my first car accident, we bought our first house, we went on our first cruise to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and my husband got accepted into a master’s degree program. God has blessed us, but it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and yesterday was no exception.
As we were driving back from my parents’ house, 14 hours into the 16 hour trip, we entered into Raton Pass, and less than five miles into Colorado, we hit a bear. Yes, a bear. We were driving the car that had just been repaired after the wreck. The front end was less than two months old.
So how does this connect to joy? A few months ago when I got into my first wreck, I had a hard time choosing joy. I couldn’t let it go that I’d run into the back of someone. The Wednesday night after the wreck, we had a lesson at church about how we respond to various trials. I definitely did not respond well with the first car accident. I chose to let stress and worry rule my thoughts and actions. But yesterday, I decided to choose joy, to think about how funny it is that we hit a bear and how blessed we are that only our car is damaged!
Choosing joy hasn’t been easy, though. There’ve been several times today where I was really stressed about how much this new accident was going to cost and what it was going to do to our insurance. Each time I’ve started to stress out, I’ve reminded myself of James: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, NASB).
Why does James urge Christians to consider trials joyfully? One reason James gives in verse 4 is that through trials our faith is perfected. I think there’s another learning opportunity, however. Our focus this summer for these devotionals is on the fragrance of Christ. Whenever I’ve met someone who is genuinely joyful, I remember her and wonder what her source of happiness is. Many times, a joyful Christian woman has strengthened my faith, not by her direct instruction but by her actions. If as a body of Christ we purposefully choose joy, then we will have an opportunity to not only strengthen our own faith but to also strengthen the faith of others. In essence, when we choose joy, we also choose to be a fragrant reminder to others of how God is the giver of joy.