Monday, July 26, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Choose Joy


A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”–Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)

Do we “find” joy or do we create it? Is the joy we want sitting below the surface, waiting for us to uncover it, like a seashell on the beach? Or is it something we need to actively work at because we’re not going to be joyful all on our own?

I believe, like so much of the Christian life, it’s probably a little bit of both.

In Christian circles, we often talk about the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is more about circumstance so that some days we are happier than others. During hard times, it’s understandable for us to be less happy in general, than during those days when our lives are easier. But what about joy? Should we be joyful during those times, even if we can’t quite manage to be happy?

Years ago I read an article about the psychology of cheering yourself up if you were feeling blue. It suggested playing some music that matched your mood. Maybe it was a little sad or heavy, then as you continue to listen to music, begin to choose songs that are more upbeat and happier. Pretty soon you’ll be feeling lighter, too. Is it an artificial feeling? Maybe somewhat, but we have hearts and attitudes that can be swayed when we choose to.

In a similar manner, can’t we choose joy as well? In the verses from Habakkuk above, we see evidence that the nation of Israel was not doing well. Although we don’t know a lot about this particular prophet, scholars have determined that he was probably a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. The days were difficult, yet he is determined to declare that he will rejoice in God. He knew what God had done for the Israelites over the years and that there would be salvation for the righteous. Whether Habakkuk felt it or not, he encouraged them—and himself—to see the joy even in those things.

James 1:2 (NLT) says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” That one doesn’t sugarcoat it at all. We should be joyful in spite of our circumstances or even more because of them. That’s an important reminder.

Philippians 4:4 (NLT) reminds us to “Always be full of joy in the Lord.” His life was marked by shipwrecks, stoning, and prison sentences. He couldn’t always have felt joyful, but he knew he should always be rejoicing. In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul tells us that joy comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully as we mature in our walk, the fruit we see in our lives will become fuller and more evident. How great would it be to spill over with so much joy (as well as peace and patience and all the others) that we can’t help but spread it wherever we go?

So it seems like God will help us find joy as we create space and opportunity for Him to do so, through obedience to the Holy Spirit, regardless of circumstances, and certainly regardless of our feelings.

I’m ready for some holy joy today. How about you?

Let’s Pray:
Father God, give me a sense of joy in whatever I face today. I want more of You and Your Spirit and I want to share that love and joy to those around me. Thank You for your faithfulness in all things. I love You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two college-age children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. 

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