When you think of joy, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Bright sunshine? Fun? Maybe even dancing around the kitchen? (Why yes, that is what comes to mind!) What about Power? Identity? A Weapon? Perhaps those last few many would not associate with joy, but throughout my experiences in life and what the Bible has to say about joy I have found it is one of the most effective tools that we as Christians can use in everyday life.
The greatest lessons and encounters with joy I have had, have been from experience, as is anything in life worth gaining. Learning joy as power came from the darkest time in my life. I was in university and developed severe depression and was entertaining some very dark thoughts. I was lost and hopeless, and in that time I cried out to God for help and He gave me this verse: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” James 1:2-3. God wanted me to know that in any circumstance that there is immense power in the mindset I choose to have in that season/trial/depression- whatever the name you give it is, there is power to overcome with a joyful mindset. This doesn’t mean that you’re always smiling or feeling happy with the season you’re in, but you are choosing to have a joyful attitude towards being victorious in that season. You’re not focusing on all the negative that is going on around you but turning you focus to Christ and His joy. Through that revelation I gained hope and clung to the joy of Christ within me and praise God, was completely delivered from depression after a time, and have never seen it since.
Understanding that there is power in joy, I also found there is also strength in joy- “…The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 and can also be used as a weapon against the enemies’ advances. When you want to build muscle and gain strength, the best way to do that is to repeat exercises over and over, right? The same principle applies for building up your joy. In Philippians 4:4 it says “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” (emphasis mine). This means that when you have a negative situation, you should choose to rejoice in the Lord. The situation is still tough? Rejoice! But it’s hard to see the good right now. Rejoice! It goes back to choosing a mindset of joy and making that choice again and again, building up that “muscle” of joy. When you make choosing joy a regular practice in your life and difficulties come your way, you are setting yourself up to be able to choose joy faster, easier, and affectively. By saying “I choose joy instead of being angry” or “I choose joy instead of feeling defeated” you deflate any power the enemy has in that situation and you will see victory in your attitude, how you feel, and how you think.
The importance of joy is not only knowing that it is a gift from God to use and gain strength in, but knowing that it is part of your identity in Christ. Joy was grafted into your very being by God through the hope of salvation in Jesus and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted us to know love and loving one another so that “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) By becoming a new creation we produce joy as fruit of our relationship with Him and knowing that our identity is in Christ. So if you have been born again, never can you say that you have no joy, it is literally a part of who you are!
Joy is more than a feeling, it is more than a motion or expression. It is a powerful piece of God’s love for us and a way to create a more Christ-focused mindset for our lives. Christ’s joy is full in us and never leaves. What a beautiful part of our identity in God to choose joy and see it’s impact in our lives. The phrase “Choose Joy” has become one of my life statements, as a reminder that no matter what comes my way, I choose to be joyful; again, and again.
Jordan hails from Kansas City and is currently in the midst of a year-long internship serving the national vision of Campus Awakening, as well as connecting locally with students through Vinelife Church Manchester. She makes many things happen and is a brilliant asset to our team!