Choosing Joy

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Possible goods:

  • My own, temporal, good.  (Possible)
  • My own, eternal, good.  (Likely, if surrendered to Christ)
  • Another human’s temporal good.  (Possible)
  • Another human’s eternal good.  (May it be so, Lord).

Everything in our lives *will be used for good*.  So, in what, then, should we not rejoice?  Logically – nothing.  There is nothing that will not turn to good, somehow.  Even the rotten fruit dropped to the ground serves to nourish other living things.  As Christians – everything is going to be awesome.  There is *no reason* we shouldn’t be joyful, even in the mathematics of the unsaved – we just have a longer view.

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

What, then, of happiness?  Happiness is a temporal emotion – it is a response to stimuli.  But we can choose how we respond to many stimuli, and we can choose contentment (or just not worrying about it).  God gives us all things to enjoy – are we enjoying those things we have been given?  If you can “only afford” hamburger, and not steak… do you enjoy your hamburger and thank God for it?  When you see a flower – be it dandelion or peony – do you enjoy it?  Are you thankful?

The world will teach you to never settle for hamburger or dandelions, to dwell in discontentment.  The world will tell you that this is a *good thing*, never to settle.  It’s not.  Contentment is a radical choice!

And that is my “character trait to work on” at this moment.  Not so much a New Year’s resolution – but it’s what I’m doing.

When I open myself to enjoying what I have *now*, I find that my capacity to enjoy grows.  I find that my capacity for joy grows.  It’s so easy to  take the flower or the blue sky or cool breeze for granted… but if you start seeing them for what they are, gifts from God, you’ll have more fun.  You get rid of some of your world-self, flesh-self, and dwell in the eternal.  You grow in gratitude.

I find that I have to push against my worldly wisdom to embrace this simple joy.  I’ve gone through years of “though He doth slay me, yet will I trust Him”.  Expecting, instead, not to be slain but to be set dancing on the hilltops is … interesting.  I have to push back on the “well, you can’t always expect candles and roses”.  No, I can’t.  But when I am given candles and roses, I shouldn’t frown in anticipation of the day without – I should delight in what I have!  Tomorrow it may be cabbage and broth – but those are good too.  They’re good!  It’s *all* good.

And that’s how you develop joy – or how I do.  You look for the good, and you take delight in it, whatever it is.

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