Are you experiencing joy in your life? Or, like many people, are you going through a difficult season? If that is the case, you might find joy to be a distant memory.
However, the Word of God shows us that joy isn’t always connected to our circumstances. At the beginning of James’ Epistle, he encourages his readers to CHOOSE joy. James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). This is one of those short verses that is easy to read, but hard to live out. How do we actually choose to have joy?
Here are 5 practical ways to choose joy everyday.
1. Recognize that it is a Decision
For many people, they believe that joy is simply an emotion that they have little or no control over. Either you feel joy, or you don’t. At best, they would argue that you can do things that make you feel happy. Even then, joy is not guaranteed.
But it is important to see that our lives don’t always have be driven by emotion. In fact, we make decisions every day that go against our feelings. For instance, I don’t always FEEL like getting up early in the morning. But I set my alarm at night. And I wake-up and start my day when the alarm goes off. Regardless of how I feel in the morning.
According to James 1:2, we can make the decision to have joy. Even in the midst of trials. Though choosing joy isn’t always easy, it is something worth fighting for.
2. See the Benefit of Choosing Joy
It is also important to see the lasting benefit of choosing joy. We see in James chapter 1 that joy is not the only end goal he has in mind. In verses 3 and 4, James explains that when we respond appropriately to challenging circumstances by choosing joy, we experience perseverance. And perseverance results in Christian maturity. According to James, mature Christians are joyful Christians.
Another benefit of choosing joy is that it positively impacts our testimony. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 5 that we are supposed to be the light of the world. I believe it is difficult to be a light when we are always miserable. We have the opportunity to show everyone that our joy is based in Christ.
3. Remind Yourself of God’s Love
If you desire to choose joy, it is important that you remind yourself constantly of God’s love. In James 1:5 we are reminded of the fact that God is generous, and we can turn to him when we are struggling. We need to be reminded of the fact that God is not indifferent to our struggles.
I believe there is a reason why John 3:16 is the most well-known verse in the world – we need to be reminded of God’s love for us. Our souls crave that kind of love. Our soul is like a desert, and his love is like an oasis. His love gives us real and lasting joy.
4. Remove What Robs You of Joy
It is important to understand that there are things that can rob us of having joy. In James 1:6 we see that doubt has the ability to rob us of joy. Only when we have faith in Christ can expect to experience real joy. Sometimes people view doubt and uncertainty as intellectual humility. However, that is not how Scripture views doubt. There are some things that we need to fight to overcome. And when ever we do doubt, we need to be like the father in Mark 9:24 who asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.
But there are other things that rob us of joy. Unrepented sin has this effect. Though sin might be entertaining for a little while, it is unable to produce real joy. We need to see sin as a thief that robs of everything that truly matters. Thankfully, because of the forgiveness that Jesus provides, we no longer need to be enslaved to sin. With Jesus’ help, we can begin to remove what robs us of joy.
5. Keep Eternity in Perspective
Finally, if we want to choose joy, we need to keep eternity in perspective. That is what Paul calls us to in 2 Corinthians. He writes,
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
When we have eternity in view, we can’t help but see our current challenges as only momentary. When we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, our burdens somehow become light. Therefore, Paul tells us to not lose heart. When you keep eternity with Jesus in view, choosing joy in this moment is far easier.
Though I don’t know what you have been through, or what you are currently going through, my hope is that you can use some of these points to fight for joy. It might not happen over night. It might be a process. But my hope is that you will begin to experience joy in Christ a little more each day.