As I try to get my heart and mind prepared for Christmas, I find myself sitting with sweet Mary. I wonder about her life before the conception, her visit with the angel, and pregnancy as an unwed, Jewish teenager. I consider her thoughts on the donkey, the tears in her eyes in the stable, and the way she must have looked at Jesus when he played in the dirt. It never stops there, though. I follow her to the wedding feast for His first miracle, and to the mountainside for her son’s public speaking debut. I follow all the way to the cross. I have to stop there; it hurts too much.
Mary must have decided to choose joy. Otherwise, how could one sweet soul endure such a difficult life. Mary believed God’s promises. She found her joy in those promises like gifts, beautifully wrapped and under a Christmas tree. Mary sang this sweet song as she carried the Christ child in her womb:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
Luke 1:46-49, ESV
Sara Frankl lived in a body that struggled with multiple chronic illnesses that confined her to her condo and prevented her from building a career and family. Yet her soul remained joyful.
Choosing joy is acknowledging that while I don’t understand what’s going on, God does. Choosing joy is remembering that while life seems to be spiraling out of control, it is never out of God’s control. Choosing joy is remaining mindful that while my circumstances may feel anything but ideal, God still has my good and His glory in mind. (Sara Frankl, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose when Life Hurts)
Mary and Sara both made a decision to choose joy before their circumstances could dictate their emotions.
I will choose joy because God is with me.
In every circumstance, God’s presence is a sure thing. I may not always feel Him, but I can be sure He is there.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17, ESV
I will choose joy because God is my strength.
God does not ask me to endure hardships alone. He gives me the measure of strength I need to persevere and overcome.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV
I will choose joy because I know what to do.
I may not know what to do, per se, but I know where to look for the answers. God’s word is a sure thing, faithful to give wisdom, instruction, and encouragement.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
Psalm 119:14, NIV
I will choose joy because I know this is God’s will for me.
Nothing happens to me without God’s knowledge. He is sure of my path, even when I am not.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will for God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV
I will choose joy because my salvation is sure.
No matter the suffering or trials I endure while my feet are planted in the soil of this earth, I am sure of my future. Jesus made the decision to give up the splendor of heaven in order to redeem me. He stepped down from his throne and crawled into a nasty manger. He removed His eternal and wrapped Himself in our temporal. All for love. How can I not choose joy after He did all of that for me?
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10, ESV
#FridayFive Link Up
For this week’s #FridayFive, we are sharing JOY! And what a beautiful thing to share! What brings you joy at Christmas time? What brought you joy this week? How do you consciously choose joy in the midst of difficult circumstances? Share in the comments or use the button below to link up your joy-filled post.
Be sure to come back next week! Hope will shine bright as we share our hope for Christmas, hope for the New Year, hope for our hurting world.
Product links are affiliate links.