Pastor Susan O’Reilly
Joy is something that is constantly underrated in our world. It’s seen as foolish, naive, and careless. It’s seen as something that should only be seen in small doses. It rubs people the wrong way. There’s a misconception that having joy or being joyful is an effort to gloss over things that are hard or scary or uncomfortable or sad; that being joyful is nothing more than choosing to be oblivious to the world around us.
But the thing is, when we stop to recognize God’s love and grace and provision and kindness, we can’t help but bubble over with wonder. With praise. With thanksgiving. With joy.
Even still, joy is a choice. It’s an on purpose, intentional, and incredibly hard choice. Negativity is much easier sometimes. The enemy is good at realizing this and playing to it. Having joy is something we must choose to do. It’s a posture that requires commitment. Joy is our only chance at not losing hope in our world.
In making the choice to be joyous, we are in no way suddenly guaranteed to have an easy life. Joy does not come naturally or easily to us, and it certainly doesn’t make everything better all the time. Joy does not sit around waiting to beat off struggles with a wooden stick. Joy is not a guard dog, chasing away the enemy. Joy does not cover our eyes to make the Night disappear.
But – joy makes it all a little more bearable. It gives us a good foundation to withstand the storm. It sets us on the right path to deal with struggles as they come. It gives us direction to effectively navigate the waters.
Everywhere in the Bible, we are called to have joy. To dance. To praise. To sing and laugh and smile. And to choose joy. Even when life is hard and people hurt us. Even when we can’t feel God. Even when joy doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere at all.
God’s love story to us is riddled with joy. It’s everywhere, on the mountain tops and in the lion’s den. Jesus and His followers exude joy. And so must we.
So, choose praise. Choose gratitude. Choose wonder. Choose beauty. Choose gentleness. Choose Jesus. Choose Joy.