What is the difference between happiness and joy? I’m not really sure, but I woke up in the morning on Tuesday in a ‘listening’ mode and I heard in that still small voice inside say, “choose your joy”. As a believer in Jesus the Messiah/Christ this season of Lent/Easter often reveals something me that I wasn’t even thinking about or may never had thought about before. I know that happiness depends on our circumstances and it’s temporal. A new pair of shoes or a plant surviving in my care can make me happy, until the shoe wears out and the plant dies. JOY is a deeper more substantial settled-ness in the recesses of the heart, soul and mind.
How can it be? I think in God’s sacrifice of His Son in our stead/place not only did He give us salvation, but also we are extended a freedom to choose. That freedom to choose is choosing Jesus as Savior and choosing Him to be everything to us in the myriad of life issues which will come; the need of healing, wisdom, peace, joy, guidance…He gave us the option also to choose not to sin anymore. The Apostle Paul says, ‘I died to sin’. Paul also tells how difficult that is. He does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he should. We are the same.
The Apostle Paul, and other strong Christians even today who are being murdered/martyred on a daily basis are choosing a way less traveled, but doing it with a deep seeded joy that can only be chosen with the assurance of their seeing Jesus. I want to choose the ‘joy’ that Paul had in prison, in shipwrecks, in beatings, snake bit, and even being stoned by those who believed they were doing God a favor.
Even in the worst of the last 17 months since Rick’s stroke and colon surgery, infection and pneumonia, there has been a ‘joy’ deep inside that doesn’t give way to the drama and often trauma. It’s been comforting to me that in the crisis hours and days and months and now years, that the JOY of the Lord has held me in such a way that although my heart is broken and body is tired, I have not lost the JOY!!! I choose JOY in the sorrow, in long tedious hours, in the emergencies, in the quiet, sometimes sleepless hours of the night. Like 12:46am on this Wednesday morning before Easter.
Easter is coming. Jesus is coming. He has come and brought JOY to the world. He is the JOY, choose Him today and everyday, in every circumstance. He died to give us the freedom to choose to live eternally in great joy in the midst of the sorrows around us. Hold to that joy and cherish it!