A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.
A few years ago, I bought a devotional titled Joy for the Journey. This past week, as I was packing up my home, I came across the book once again. Little did I know how relevant the truths it speaks of would be at this time in my life.
In the space of just a few days, we experienced a number of significant, unforeseen events, both personally and as a family. My response was “really?” All this in the week that we are preparing to move home and when we are, quite honestly, already stressed, tired and emotional.
I tried to contemplate the circumstances we found ourselves in, in order to rationalise them. The consequences. The Inconvenience. The uncertainty. But all I could think of were the following two words: Choose joy.
Choose joy? Anger and frustration, I could relate to. Anxiety definitely. Even sadness. But joy?
As believers, we are familiar with the many passages in the Scriptures, both in the Old and the New Testament, that refer to joy. This joy is not simply a feeling although that is, I believe, an important aspect of the joy God refers to in His Word.
As John Piper puts it: “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world”. Piper further breaks down his definition as follows:
A good feeling: Joy is a good feeling or emotion as opposed to an idea or decision, which implies that we don’t necessarily have immediate control over it – at least not in our own power.
In the soul: This may be obvious, but it is perhaps worth mentioning nevertheless. We experience joy firstly in our soul. Then in our bodies. In other words, having a spring in our step or crying tears of joy are not joy in and of themselves, rather the body’s response to joy in the soul.
Produced by the Spirit: Joy is as we know, a fruit of the Spirit and it is therefore, the Holy Spirit who produces joy in our souls. Try as we might, we cannot make this happen of our own accord.
A sight of Jesus: The Holy Spirit is the one who does this, by causing us to reflect on the wonder of Jesus. As we do so, joy cannot but rise up in our hearts.
In the Word and in the World: We are then able to see Him not only in the Word but also at work in the world — that is our eyes are open to see Him in people, in nature and in everything that is good in the world.
Choosing joy is not easy in the midst of challenging circumstances but when we do, we receive not only joy, which is our God-given strength (Nehemiah 8:10) to navigate difficult times, but also hope for the future and changed circumstances (Romans 15:13).
I wish you joy for your journey!