"Choose Joy" ?

I grew up telling myself this phrase over and over and over since I struggled with controlling my anger and frustrations. “Choose joy Nathan. Your joy is your job.” I would tell myself.

Me and you both have probably seen or heard the phrase “choose joy” posted on social media, printed on t-shirts, labeled on coffee mugs, and probably has been said to you by a mentor or friend. But let me explain my perspective and opinion on why this phrase is completely overused and why we should stop encouraging ourselves and one another from using it. .

A couple of days ago I sent out a tweet asking the question, “Does the Bible ever say the phrase “choose joy”?

I never got a direct answer with a “yes” or “no”. One person said, “It says choose Jesus, who gives us our joy.” Another said, “Yes, it’s what God has called us to.” and they even provided some scripture with the word “joy” in it!

So what is “choosing joy”? Is it thinking of the good things? Is it ‘turning that frown upside down’? Or does our joy come from a greater source? Is joy something that we can lose? Think about it. When is the last time you said, “Wow, i’ve got so much joy today!”

It isn’t something we normally would say right? Sow how do we choose joy.

That tweet I sent out provoked a lot of responses. Some people disagreed with me and others texted me personally telling me their story on why they believe you cannot choose joy. I guess its a sensitive subject! The perspective that really resonated with me was someone telling me about their experience with their own clinically diagnosed depression. Choosing joy was really not an option for them. Their joy had to be something that they always had, even when their brain told them that they did not. Their joy was rooted in their salvation with Christ. It reminded me a few years ago when I had just met Jesus. I was in the negatives in my bank account, didn’t know how I was going to pay rent, battled loneliness, and had lost what seemed like everything. Yet, I had Jesus, which was now my new source of joy and purpose.

This lead me into the thought of:

“How can I choose joy when it has already been given to me by Jesus dying and giving me salvation?”

David says in Psalm 51, “restore to me the joy of my salvation.” after he had sinned. This was before Jesus walked the earth and died for all of us. David relied on God to provide his joy and asked for forgiveness.

Paul was in prison, but decided to worship Jesus because of his salvation and his chains fell off. (Acts 16) Some would argue that he chose joy in that moment since he had nothing left but decided to worship anyways. So here is where I stand today.

We cannot choose joy when our source of joy comes from our Father in heaven and He has already chosen it for us.

Joy is not found in your circumstances. It is not a “feel good” moment in life. Joy is found in your roots. Just because it is winter, does not mean a tree stops growing. The tree may bend in the wind, not produce fruit for a season, or even be pruned and cut back, yet the roots never move. In fact, they grow deeper.

If you want to encourage yourself with this phrase then, by all means, do it. But when it comes to encouraging others, instead of using “choose joy”, why don’t we say a phrase like, “lets pray and ask God to be our source of joy today”. Or get personal with people and sympathize with where they are at in life. Strike and nourish deep into the roots of your relationships. It is so important not to neglect prayer and asking God to provide joy. He is a good Father and its in his nature to draw near to those who draw near to him. (James 4:8)

Galatians chapter 5 talks about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (who IS God) “Love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.” Sounds to me like we need to to fed by the fruit of the spirit and not merely telling ourselves and others to “choose” it. The Holy Spirit is our best friend and the crescendo of the cross. He is there to help us!

Let’s be dependent on the Holy Spirit for our joy. Without Him, we bear no fruit. Don’t fight this battle alone. Let Jesus fight it with you. Choose Jesus. You are never alone!

I am sorry if this post stepped one your toes. It is merely a perspective and who knows, my perspective on joy may change in the future! Let’s talk about it. Im always down for a great conversation.

Listen. Learn. Live Love.

Nathan Mell