I believe that joy is a choice.
Joy is a monumental decision yet we make it every day in thousands of small ways.
We have been given the power to live in a place of joy even when we despise the stormy conditions of life.
Joy may seem like an impossible dream to you … but it’s not.
Joy may seem like an imagined oasis in the desert-like conditions that have surrounded your soul … but it’s not.
Joy may seem elusive and even non-existent … but it’s not.
Joy is a very real certainty for those who have determined to live a life that correlates with the directions found in scripture.
If you feel far away from joy today … take just one step toward it.
If joy seems like it resides on a distant, foreign shore in life … just set your gaze in that direction.
If joy seems tenuous and out of reach … just decide for once and for all that nothing … absolutely nothing … will keep you from crossing the finish line where joy is the reward.
As a woman who has fiercely battled depression over the decades of my life, may I share with you some of my “Joy Determinates”?
These are the choices that I make every day of my life.
1 – I Will Worship In Spite Of!
I know of no other way to access His presence, where there is always fullness of joy than to just begin to sing. Worshipping the Lord, even while in the heat of the battles of life, is the unmistakable mark of a follower in Jesus Christ.
Peter sang when the church was being persecuted.
Paul sang in prison.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshipped in the fiery furnace.
Job worshipped when his entire life lay in ruins before him.
Noah worshipped as he built the Ark.
Jonah worshipped in the belly of a great fish.
Abraham worshipped on his way to sacrifice his only son.
Moses worshipped in the middle of a horrific battle.
Worship is your first step away from discouragement and it is your first step toward joy! My goal in life is not to be pummeled by my pain but it is to out-sing my circumstances! Allow worship and praise music to become the soundtrack of your life. If joy has a sound, it is the sound of worship.
“In this, you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of JesusChrist
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”
– I Peter 1:6-8
2 – I Will Read My Bible!
I wish that I could express, in mortal words, the joy that is mine simply because I have chosen to read the Bible nearly every day of my life.
Some days, to be sure, I am able to read it longer than on other days, but every day I endeavor to read at least a chapter or two in the powerful, miraculous, unchanging, matchless Word of God!
The Bible is not a flat book but it is a dynamic, life-changing source of joy.
The Bible is genuine joy written in a book format.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
– Hebrews 4:12
You won’t always “feel” like reading the Bible but do it anyway!
You might mistakenly believe that you don’t have time to read the Bible but believe me when I say that you don’t have time NOT to read it!
“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.”
– Psalm 119:14
3 – I Will Hide God’s Word In My Heart
If you want to be the miraculous receptacle of heaven’s joy then you will begin to memorize the Word of God! Memorizing Scripture is not just for fifth graders but it is for all of us who want to be more like Jesus.
“Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You.”
– Psalm 119:11
I have filled my mind with so many different things over the years; I have memorized phone numbers and addresses. I have tucked away the sweetness of the gifts people have given to me; I can recall the words that have been spoken over me many decades ago. I can remember what I wore to my 8th birthday party and to my high school graduation. However, I must tell you, that nothing has brought me more joy than memorizing the Word of God on a regular basis.
“I shall delight in Your statues; I shall not forget Your word.”
– Psalm 119:16
4 – I Will Pray For Someone Else
In your quest to be a truly joyful person, it is vital that you stop thinking about yourself and only focus on your own personal pain. One of the healthiest choices you can make is to begin to pray for others.
“Pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much.”
– James 5:16
On the days that your struggle with depression or emotional pain is the most intense, spend some time on your knees and pray for those in your life who are struggling.
“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”
– Charles Spurgeon
5 – I Will Be Grateful
If you don’t understand joy, then just be thankful. Thankfulness and joy are not so very far apart.
Can you be thankful? If you can be thankful then you can also be joyful! Thanksgiving is not a holiday but it is a lifestyle of the very best kind!
“Joy springs from a grateful heart.” I refuse to allow myself to close my eyes on my pillow at night without first recalling three things for which I am grateful that day.
“Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.”
– Alexander MacLaren
A thankful person is always a joyful person and a joyful person knows the value of thanksgiving. You will never reach your destination of “joy” without first traveling down the hallway of gratitude.
Thanksgiving is where the joy is found! Thanksgiving is an anchor that keeps us in the ocean of joy even when the storms are raging around us.
“Indeed, the lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.”
– Isaiah 51:3
6 – I Will Forgive
If you are harboring hostility and resentment because of the way that someone has treated you, you will never experience pure and abundant joy.
Let me assure you that when you choose to forgive, it does not justify someone’s mistreatment of you but it will set you free from the bondage of strife and animosity.
When you choose to forgive someone who has been cruel, unkind, or even abusive, it is the greatest gift you could ever give to yourself.
Forgiveness will always open the door to joy.
Forgiveness is when the innocent one lets the guilty one go free!
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize the prisoner was you.”
We are unable to control how others treat us but we are certainly able to control our response to those people. When we choose to hang onto the bitterness that accompanies mistreatment, we are allowing that person to steal our joy.
“Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to Peter, “I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to seventy times seven.”
– Matthew 18:21 & 22
As believers in Christ, we have been forgiven of our sins! It is vital in order to maintain a high level of joy to share that forgiveness with others. We are called to be like Jesus and He forgave us when we were yet sinners. You will never “feel” like forgiving but you must choose it.
When you choose to forgive ~ you are choosing joy in its fullest measure.
“Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
– Matthew 6:12
7 – I Will Be Kind
One of the grandest delights of participating in the Christian life is that we are called to be a blessing to others.
Simply being kind to someone else who has had a hard day will increase your joy. When you choose to reach out with sincere tenderness and with unconditional grace to someone in your life, your own joy will increase! It’s a miracle in the making!
“Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure ~ pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
– Luke 6:38
Do you know what endorphins are? Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body and their job is to relieve stress and pain. One of the ways that endorphins are stimulated is simply by smiling at someone or by serving a person in need.
Endorphins are vital in a person’s fight against depression ~ perhaps your endorphins need to be encouraged to encourage someone else!
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
– Chuck Swindoll
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Carol McLeod Ministries