A Guest Post by Kaleigha Jae
“I’ve noticed a difference in you the past few months.”
As a Christian, I think this is one of the best compliments I’d ever received.
While we grow in faith, our maturity is exemplified by the fruit we bear.
If you knew me personally, you’d know that I have always wrestled with anxiety.
As a kid, I didn’t like the dark, needed music to fall asleep, and avoided sleepovers.
Later in life, change of any kind crippled me—from rearranging my bedroom to moving away from home.
So you can imagine my surprise upon hearing those words!
This compliment was a reminder of how God has grown me over the years as I strive to follow and obey Jesus.
As I am in a season of constant change and external pressure, I attribute the noticeable difference in my life to a recent decision.
My resolution to daily choose joy.While we grow in faith, our maturity is exemplified by the fruit we bear.
What is Choosing Joy?
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Joy isn’t optional, it is an essential part of being a Christian.
God created us to rejoice. He even commands it!
God also tells us what the subject of our joy ought to be: The goodness of God that has provided salvation for our souls and gives us hope.
You see, joy isn’t the absence of sadness. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to be joyful always.Joy isn't optional, it is an essential part of being a Christian.
Joy isn’t a feeling that is dependent on our circumstances.
It is a response to the goodness of God and our eternal salvation.
Choosing joy has nothing to do with how we feel and everything to do with how we obey.
Choosing Joy Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
During my teen years, I began actively pursuing spiritual growth and as a result, became more self-aware.
I recognized my unhealthy tendencies all shared the same root: focusing on my circumstances leads to anxiety.
I know that “getting rid of anxiety” is not always a realistic goal.
Sadly, stress and anxiety are part of the human experience—because we live in a world that is broken by sin.
Although we may not be able to completely “get rid of” anxiety, we can learn to combat it by choosing joy even when we don’t feel like it.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m anxious, my first response is “God, I’m not joyful at all. I feel hopeless. I want to feel sorry for myself.”
And this type of faulty reasoning perpetuates negative feelings and thoughts in my mind.
What do you do when you just don’t feel like choosing joy?What do you do when you just don’t feel like choosing joy?
As we mature in our faith, we realize that life is not all about what we want or how we feel.
Our purpose is to submit to the lordship of Christ and invite Him to shape the way we live our day-to-day lives.
Even when it isn’t easy.
Especially when it isn’t easy.
So what do we do when anxious thoughts plague our minds?
We start by taking those thoughts captive and making them obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We do this by recognizing how we feel and then surrendering it to God.
We give it back to Him and allow Him to be in control which lifts a huge burden off of our shoulders!
The most effective strategy for quelling anxious thoughts is to focus all of our attention on the goodness of God and His gift of salvation instead.The most effective strategy for quelling anxious thoughts is to focus all of our attention on the goodness of God and His gift of salvation instead.
Choosing Joy is God-Enabled
As humans, if we were left up to our feelings, we would be deceived more often than we care to admit (Genesis 6:5).
But the good news is that God has made a way for us to return to Him and live in victory.
Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself and paid the price of our sin. Because of Christ, God’s wrath is no longer against us.
If God made a way for us to be reconciled back to Himself through suffering and death on a cross, don’t you think He will also make a way for you to be joyful?If God made a way for us to be reconciled back to Himself through suffering and death on a cross, don’t you think He will also make a way for you to be joyful?
Three Truths To Help You Choose Joy Today
Here are three important things to remember as you work to change your focus and choose joy.
1. Depend on Jesus to give you His joy.
Likening himself to a vine and the disciples to branches, Jesus reminded us we must abide, and remain in Him for nourishment, strength, and survival.
“The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me…My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:5,8)
Without nutrients from the vine, a branch simply cannot bear fruit.
One such fruit, as a follower of Jesus, is joy.
Abide in Him, and He will be able to fill you with His joy.Joy isn’t a feeling that is dependent on our circumstances. It is a response to the goodness of God and our eternal salvation.
2. Receiving heavenly joy isn’t a one-time experience.
God doesn’t command us to be joyful, and then leave us to figure it out on our own.
He loves to give good gifts to His children ‘For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds’ (Luke 11:10).
Recently, our church had a sermon all about God continually filling us with joy through the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18-20 says “be filled with the Spirit…singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything…”
He has enabled us to be filled with joy and is faithful to fill us!
To fill your mind with God’s Word, read passages such as Colossians 3:15-17, James 1:2-4, and Job 1:21 or 27:3-4.
3. A joy-filled life requires diligent, faithful participation.
Pray for self-control to take captive thoughts of anxiety, disappointment, hurt, discontent, and trials and surrender them to God.
Write down what you are grateful for. Have a notepad handy to jot down little things throughout the day that brings you joy.
Then read them when you’re struggling to find joy in anything!
When you recognize your healthy response in a situation that would have set you off in the past, thank God for His work in you.
Notice your growth and praise God for His grace.
Concluding Thoughts on Choosing Joy
One of the Greek words for joy in the New Testament is ‘chara’, and can be defined as calm delight.
I think this is what my friend noticed in me—a calm delight in response to ever-changing seasons and trials.
Though the world may change around us and nothing in this temporal world is promised, our God is never changing.
And we can find joy in that.
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17
— Kaleigha Jae
Kaleigha is a coffee-loving, book-devouring, sun-bathing, twenty-something who enjoys wife-life, and gets excited about encouraging others to encounter Jesus with their entire being on her blog at KaleighaJae.com.