Tag Archives: rejoice always

Can Joy be a Choice?

“Joy does not simple happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep on choosing it every day.”  Henri Nouwen

Violet

A few months ago I crowded in a chapel attending the funeral of a little girl named Violet. Violet died during her birth, the first child of Joseph and Judy.

Many wore violet articles of clothes to the service, honoring her life and her parent’s courage. Though Violet’s life was short, she impacted us all.

After the service, we were all given violet helium balloons to release on cue. When we did, the sky was filled with floating circles of purple, growing smaller and smaller as they drifted to the heavens; a salute to violet’s life and a message of love to her from us all.

As inspirational as the balloons were, what hit me most was Violet’s parent’s response. We learned from the eulogy that in the midst of incalculable sadness and grief, Joseph and Judy were choosing joy.

 Choosing Joy?

As I ponder Joseph and Judy’s resolve, I wonder how it’s possible to choose joy just days after her death.

How could this really be true? Isn’t joy supposed to be something good? Seeing the pain on Judy and Joseph’s face, I’m conflicted.

Paul’s command in I Thessalonians 5:16 comes to mind, one of the shortest verses in the Bible: “Rejoice always;”

The word ‘rejoice’ is from the old French word ‘rejoiur’, which means full of joy.

I’m to be full of joy even when my circumstances are difficult. I’m to rejoice always. But this is extreme. An only child is dead. Are we to be full of joy even then? My heart fights this notion.

What makes choosing joy possible?

In another place I read “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

Be full of joy in the Lord.

God is joy. He is the source of joy, it exudes from Him. “In your presence is fullness of Joy.” Psalm 16:11b

Choosing joy is choosing God in the midst of anything and everything I’m going through.

As children of God, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing, including being sealed in Christ with the promised Holy Spirit. [1]

We are in Christ and He is in us. See also Galatians 2:20a  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me;”

Joy, true joy, is found in our nearness to Christ and His nearness to us.

Joy is eternal, unaffected by the circumstances of our lives. Joy is God himself.

Judy and Joseph love Violet so much. Their whole world was flipped upside down on the day she was born. Months of anticipation and excitement were at once turned to horror and indescribable sadness. Yet through it all, when hearts were crumbling, they clung to each other and choose God’s nearness. They choose to find their comfort in God. They choose joy.

“In your presence is fullness of joy.” 

Challenge:  What circumstance is zapping your joy right now? No matter how difficult your situation is, choose at this moment to rejoice in God’s nearness. In spite of all, choose God, choose joy.

Lord, thank you that in all I go through, you never leave me. Indeed you are closer than breath. You are my joy. Help me continually choose you. Amen

[1] Ephesians 1:3-13