I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
When we read in Scripture about what it looks like to have joy, it’s important to remember that being happy and being joyful are not the same thing. Happiness is external. Joy is internal. Happiness is based on chance. Joy is based on choice. Happiness depends upon circumstances. Joy depends on Christ.
With that in mind, you might be wondering, “How can I be joyful on the inside when everything is falling apart on the outside?” Well, there are three steps you can take to choose joy, even when your circumstances aren’t ideal.
1. Make A Decision to Be Joyful
If we are going to choose joy in the midst of hard times, we have to learn to put our focus on our Heavenly Father, not on our circumstances. In John 16:21, Jesus talks about how when women give birth, they experience pain. But as soon as the baby is born, they forget the pain because the baby brings so much joy. This principle applies just the same to our everyday lives. We might be experiencing unimaginable pain right now, but if we shift our focus to the Lord, we will find joy in Him despite the pain.
2. Master the Desire to Be Joyful
Just like every other fruit of the Spirit, joy is not something you can muster up on your own. Joy only comes as a gift from God through the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Jesus promises in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Once you decide you’re going to choose to be joyful in the midst of your pain and sorrow, you need to ask the Lord to give you the joy He promises to give to His children.
3. Manage the Determination to Be Joyful
The word “determination” used here is very purposeful. You can’t determine something with your feelings. You determine something with your will. Being happy is a feeling, but choosing joy is an act of your will. It’s so important that we use our will to be joyful as followers of Jesus because the Lord is joyful, and we are called to become more like Christ.
Dear Lord, thank you that I can always find joy in you, even when my circumstances aren’t ideal. Help me to look to you for joy and contentment regardless of what’s going on my life, and help my joy in the tough times of life to point others to You. Amen.