But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.~Galatians 5:22-23a ESV
“Cherrilynn, you need the joy of the Lord,” my roommate Jan said.
“But they hate me at work, my parents don’t want to know Jesus, and my car needs $800 worth of repairs.” I sat in the chair and placed my head in my hands.
“Life will always be challenging. You must choose joy. I learned at a retreat how to have joy. It starts with our priorities; Jesus, Others, You. Focus on Jesus, serve others, and you will have joy.”
I took my friend’s advice to heart. I had lived with her long enough to watch her experience heartache, family trauma, and spiritual attacks. And yet, she always looked to Jesus, and the joy of the Lord was her strength.
In the Bible, the Greek word for joy is chará. It means joy springing from faith.
This reminds me of Paul and Silas when they were imprisoned (see Acts 16:25). They were stoned, bleeding, and shackled to the inner cell walls because they shared the gospel. Shivering and in severe pain, they chose not to complain about their circumstances. Instead, they sang. They knew their outcome rested in the hands of their Savior.
Their mindset was not self-preservation but proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. The spiritual fruit of joy sprang forth from within their spirits even while they were behind those prison walls. They knew God was pleased with their obedience to Him. Suddenly, their chains fell off and the doors of the prison cell opened. Because of this miracle, the jailer and his family believed the words of the prisoners and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
>They sang praises to Jesus
>They proclaimed the Good News. They did not ask for clothes for warmth, food for their empty stomachs, or bandages for their wounds. They were more concerned with where the jailer and his family would spend eternity.
>God took care of their needs.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.~Romans 8:28-29 ESV
As I thought about this, I repented of my disbelief and fear: “Lord, no matter what I go through, may the joy of the Lord be my strength. May I cry out to You first, serve others, and know You will take care of my needs.”
Choosing joy has become my lifestyle.
If the spiritual realm echoed into the natural world, the sound of shackles hitting the tile floor would resonate through my entire house. God’s joy bubbles in me and turns the corners of my mouth upward.
I still experience heartache, spiritual warfare, and trials, but I choose joy, applying it as tears flow. However, my inner-being rejoices, knowing God is with me and will work everything out for my good like He did for Paul and Silas. I concentrate my efforts on having the likeness of Christ my Savior, and I leave the rest to Him. He knows what is best.
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.~Hebrews 12:2 ESV
Jesus’ joy was complete because He knew His suffering would last only a brief time, but the effects were eternal. He looked to the Father for strength and thought about us while He endured the cross. God glorified Him, and salvation became available through the One who suffered most, but still chose joy.
Will you join me and choose to live a life of joy?
Share an instance where you chose joy even though your circumstances were dire.
Lord Jesus, thank You that no matter what I am going through, I can choose to tap into the spiritual fruit of joy.
Copyright 2022: I Choose Joy: Cherrilynn Bisbano: All Rights Reserved