Emotional & Mental Abundance, Spiritual Abundance

The Choice of Joy

My husband asked me recently, “How do you find joy in your life when you’ve been through so much? When people continue to hurt you?”

And I told him that joy – the kind that is a part of every molecule of your being – is not a feeling or based upon circumstances. Sure, there are joyful moments in life, but I’m talking about the ability to have joy even when your circumstances justify anger, disappointment or sorrow.

Joy, as a part of your character, is a choice.

Don’t be mistaken, that choice is not “I will be joyful.” It’s a progression that first begins with recognizing God’s grace in your life, even in turmoil-filled moments.

Eucharisteo. It’s a word I first encounter when I read “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. And it was transformative in my life. In an interview, Ann explained its meaning like this:

“Yes, it’s all Greek to me, but this is the word that can change everything: eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”

The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy.”

As Ann goes on to explain throughout her book – and the whole of her message to the world – joy is found in 1) recognizing God’s grace in our lives and 2) giving thanks for that grace no matter the circumstances. Only then can you find a joyfulness that surpasses understanding, especially in the darkness of difficulty.

Untitled designAnd that’s what makes it a choice. Embracing this concept took me from wearily trudging through difficulty with a knowledge that God always had my best interest at heart, no matter how dreary it looks (Jeremiah 29:11), to joyfully pressing forward with gusto, recognizing how much God provides for all my needs on all fronts – mentally, physically, spiritually. It’s focusing on what God has given me, not on what I still desire of him. Seeing just how big God is in my circumstances (Ephesians 3:20) – how can I not be thankful?

Joy is switching your mindset from “I can’t beat this” to “God, thank you for taking this… thank you for your answers so far and your answers to come.”

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