Choose Joy

According to “Theopedia,” joy is “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. It appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books; 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books.”

Obviously, it’s pretty important. But how many of us can claim that we have true joy in our hearts?

I tell you, in today’s political climate, it’s pretty hard to feel joy, let alone express it. We’re all passionate about something, be it a political candidate or a political cause, and when we focus on that, joy (the way it is defined in the Bible) doesn’t enter into the picture. Anger, yes. Self-righteousness, absolutely. Smugness, you bet. But joy? I haven’t seen it lately, have you?

In the definition above, joy is described as “a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.” Have you felt that lately? Have you felt content, confident, and hopeful? If you haven’t, maybe its time for a focus adjustment. It’s time to get your eyes checked, your perspective tweaked, and your priorities straight. It’s time to choose joy. How do you do that? Well, here are three ways to begin with:

1. Be thankful. Michael Zigarelli, the dean of the business school at Regent University, surveyed over 5,000 people comparing Christians who are consistently joyful with those who are less joyful. He found that gratitude was an important nutrient in the cultivation of joy. When grateful people focus on what they have, they eliminate the feeling of want. By not focusing on what’s missing, they can find joy in God’s blessings.

2. Focus on Joy. Happiness is conditional on our circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, happens despite circumstances and difficult situations. Whereas happiness is a feeling, joy is an attitude, a posture, and a position. 

3. Pray. The moment you begin to feel joy siphoned from you, pray for God’s joy. Think of the times you were most joyful in the Lord and then think of the things that rob you of that joy. Remove yourself from those things, and focus your mind on God through prayer. 

Ultimately, did you know that choosing joy is a courageous act? Joy is not the natural condition of man, but a gift from God. When you choose it, you accept Jesus in your heart and mind, and your life reflects that choice. 

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