Living Joyfully

Living joyfully, even when life isn’t going your way, is a choice. It’s not dependent on circumstances, it’s dependent on the Holy Spirit living in and through you. Just Between Us offers the following articles on cultivating gratitude and finding true joy in life through Jesus.

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Choosing Joy

"Weeping my last through the night, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5b, NLT).


If we never knew sorrow, we would not appreciate joy. Think about that for a moment. If things always go our way, if we had everything we ever wanted, we wouldn’t understand the pure joy of the father whose prodigal son comes home or the woman who was healed by Jesus after bleeding constantly for 12 years!


That’s because joy is closely tied to gratitude. Knowing loss, hurt and sadness allows us to be truly grateful when we experience abundance, healing and restoration. I believe that’s why God allows suffering in our lives. Indeed, suffering is one thing Jesus guarantees in this life (John 16:33).


But is it possible to experience joy even in the midst of suffering? After all, James writes that we should “consider it pure joy” when we face trials and troubles (Jas. 1:2). I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to jump up and down with excitement when trouble comes my way. I’m more likely to turn and run in the other direction! But once God’s got my attention, and I realize I can’t run from trouble, I think about my choices: I can grumble and complain, wallowing in self-pity, or I can choose to be grateful, knowing God is taking care of the situation for His glory and my perfection (Jas. 1:4).


One of my favorite devotionals is Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, which is written as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. My copy is worn, underlined, and marked with dates and names of people I was praying for when one of her entries seemed divinely appointed for them. One such entry reminds me that joy, like gratitude, is an attitude of the heart:


"A grateful attitude becomes a grid through which you perceive life. Gratitude enables you to see the Light of My Presence shining on all your circumstances. Cultivate a thankful heart, for this glorifies Me and fills you with Joy.”


This doesn’t come easy for me. More often than not, I find myself asking God to lift difficult circumstances from me and my loved ones rather than asking Him to walk with us through it. I try to solve my way out of trouble rather than wait and see what God wants me to learn from it. But I am reminded to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, even when things aren’t going the way I think they should.


Thank you, Lord, for reminding me to choose joy for my journey. Help me to look for You in the midst of my trials, knowing you are walking with me, leading me by the hand. Amen.


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