Do you consider yourself a joyful person? Someone who is filled with joy in spite of your circumstances? Or do you find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep your head up when trials and troubles come your way?
At this time of year, we often find ourselves alternating between “joy-filled” and “stressed-out,” or somewhere in between. Decorating, preparing meals, and shopping for gifts and groceries. Events, parties, and so much more. All, amidst everything else in our regular day-to-day lives.
Some are excited to celebrate the season with family and friends — while others are facing the holidays alone. Depending on our circumstances, and how we allow them to impact us, the Christmas Season can be one of the various challenges and mixed emotions. But — in the same way, that courage is a choice — joy is also a choice. We can choose to be joyful in spite of life’s challenges. Or, we can let difficulties steal our joy — the choice is ours.
Even when it’s hard. When negativity, pessimism, and doubt are in the air. And, even when we have good reason to be down, discouraged, or depressed. Remaining positive is still an option. An option God wants us to choose. An option that is made possible through our relationship with Christ!
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
The word “always” in Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 means continuous, every time, and at all times. When Ruth lost her husband and traveled to a foreign land with no real promise for a future, she chose carefully, and she chose joy (Ruth 1:16; 3:11). When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned and had every reason to despair, he chose to focus on the positive over the negative and he chose joy. Paul wrote to the Philippians while in prison (Philippians 1;13-14) and he mentions joy more than sixteen times in his letter. Rather than letting his circumstances drive him to despair, he maintained a joy-filled focus and pleaded with the Philippians to do the same (Philippians 2:17-18).
Do you try to influence others in positive ways? Or, do you let their attitudes impact your day? While we can’t choose or control the attitudes and actions of others – we can choose to control ours. We can choose our response and we can choose how we allow others to affect us emotionally.
So — even when it’s hard, when life seems difficult, unfair, or hopeless, and even when others try to bring us down — we can and must strive to remain joyful.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When’s the last time you’ve been intentionally kind to someone with a bad attitude? There’s no better day than today!
When was the last time you forced yourself to remain positive in the midst of a heartbreaking situation? If you are struggling today — let today be the day!
What will you choose this Christmas season? Will it be joy?