When JOY Jumps Out at You

Come, let us sing with joy to the LORD. – Psalm 95:1 (NIV)

It was the funniest thing.

Not funny in a humorous way. Not really odd or strange, either. But, in hindsight, appropriate.

Through the final month of 2015, one word kept jumping out at me: “joy.”

Now, Christmas is everywhere in December, and joy is a part of the season. So why did it seem as though that one word was trying to tell me something?

At first I didn’t think anything of it. But when this occurred time and time and time again, in different scenarios, I began to take notice.

The year’s challenges had crescendoed into a drumroll, and joy for me was anything but thriving. Normally when someone asks me how I am, I answer, with a hearty smile, “Great!’ or “Good!” (notice the exclamation points).

But in recent months the best answer I could come up with (without lying) was an anemic “okay.” With a pitiful shrug.

What had happened to my joy?

It was getting snuffed out by the stuff of life – and I was letting it happen.

So when “joy” jumped out at me repeatedly during December, I sensed God was trying to tell me something:

523871_10151027007869596_1458298130_n“Choose joy.”

While I’d thought I was dealing with the stuff of life, I was really allowing it to bury me. I wasn’t choosing joy. I was choosing distress, anxiety, fear, despair.

Joy is a choice.

A wise king once wrote, “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all” (Ecclesiastes 11:8). “Enjoy” is a verb. Active, not passive. A verb is something you do, an action.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is telling us to choose joy in all seasons of life. In the good years and the not-so-good years.

How is joy even possible when life is beating you up? How can you smile when your insides are crying?

I saw a poster just this morning that answers that question. It read, “The reason behind my smile is God.”

Choosing joy means embracing all that life encompasses, knowing that “the God on the mountain is still God in the valley. The God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night” (from “God on the Mountain” by Tracy Dartt).

Choosing joy means choosing to “let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in trouble, and pray at all times” (Romans 12:12).

Choosing joy means choosing to believe God will work things out: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

When it came time to select the one word I’ll focus on in 2016, I didn’t have to choose. It had already chosen me: joy.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to joy. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 95

 GMPM1 bookcover frontNOTE TO READERSIT’S ALMOST HERE!

Keep watching for the release of Getaway Mountain, Book 1 in the PennWoods Mystery series. I’m getting the book ready for print and look for it to be released soon. It will be available on Amazon in Kindle format ($2.99) and in print ($14.99). You may also order personally autographed copies from me. Use the contact form below. Order today and save shipping costs. No shipping costs on paid pre-orders (orders before the book is officially released).

What’s it about?

Reclusive romance novelist Melody Harmon, her career on the skids, flees to her writing retreat in the Pennsylvania mountains rather than team up with Don Bridges, an ex-cop turned suspense writer. When she discovers caches of cash—to the tune of a million dollars—she assumes it’s her late husband’s gambling winnings. Then dead bodies start popping up. Don wants to help her solve the mystery, but she doesn’t know if she should trust him. Can Melody overcome the pain of betrayal and learn to trust before the killer strikes again?

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