It was New Year’s Eve and like most Christians in the world I was waiting for my word for 2016 (insert dramatic thunder). In my head I came up with what I thought would be the best words from God. Profound words like ‘The Year of Open Heavens’ or ‘The Year of Breakthrough’ and even ‘The Year of Abundance’. With quite a bit of saltiness, I heard ‘Choose Joy’. First of all, it did not sound as profound and ‘deep’ as I had hoped. Secondly, I assumed having to choose joy meant this was going to be a terrible year, where I would have to choose to cling on to Jesus despite my circumstances. No, I’m not dramatic… (all the time) but I’ve had my share of trouble. Without knowing it, I associated joy with heartache.
In the past three years, I’ve taught myself that joy was present only to mask the pains and hardships of life that will inevitably come. The key to the last sentence is that I taught myself that I did not have scripture as my basis; only my experiences. Don’t get me wrong, having true joy in the Lord is the only way to overcome in life but it is not the only reason why believers should rejoice.
So what does choosing joy mean to me now? I appreciate your inquisitiveness. Choosing joy was not getting too busy to recognize God. Busyness can easily steal your joy, without you knowing it. In becoming busy we forget that our God is sovereign. We forget that He is the same God that clothes the lilies. We forget that He is the same God that wrote out a plan for our lives. In becoming busy we can easily adapt a lifestyle of melancholy and mediocracy. We no longer allow God to sweep us off our feet with His favor and mercy because we’re too busy being the God over our own lives. To choose joy over busyness is remembering that God is a good Father who blesses us with good gifts that we don’t have to work for. The Father’s love is unconditional and cannot be earned by an overly packed schedule.
When I first read Habakkuk 3:17-18, my first thought was choose joy when nothing is going your way. But then I read it again, I began to think of having joy during season of waiting. A season where the harvest, for the work put in has not come forth. Now to some having to wait is pretty close to torture. That process causes many of us to begin to work harder for a harvest that is not ready. We begin to insert our own plans and ‘active faith’ when God is saying not yet.
Choosing joy for me this year will mean remembering that God’s plans are greater than mine, and that He desires for me to succeed more than I want to. Choosing joy is living life to the fullest, knowing that God made plans before I was born. We have to recognize that there is nothing He will not do for us… as long as it’s in His will. Those thoughts alone should cause us to do a happy dance. So with a fresh understanding I choose to have joy this year and I pray that you do too.