The concept of choosing joy is something I have spent a lot of time studying and thinking about. I recognize my tendencies to be a “glass half empty” kind of person. I spend too much time thinking about what is lacking in my life and too little time in thanksgiving and praise for all that I have. Because I know this about myself, I try to be deliberate about remembering where joy comes from and focusing on that source.
Jesus is the source of joy. My heart was first opened to this truth some twenty years ago when I spent time wrestling with the opening commandment in the New Testament book of James. He tells us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty challenging.
The Greek word for joy is chara. It means rejoicing, happiness, gladness. The same word chara is used in Luke 2 when the angel tells the shepherds, I bring you tidings of great joy. Tidings of great joy because JESUS is here. The same word chara is used in Matthew 2 when the star the wise men had been following stopped over the place where Jesus was. The bible says the wise men were overjoyed. Overjoyed because JESUS is here.
Maybe joy comes easily for you this time of year. Or maybe it does not. I have moments of both. Moments where I am so grateful for the life I have and the people I love. But I also have moments when I am painfully aware of things I don’t have. Or things I used to have but I have lost as the years passed. Along with that, I inevitably get caught up in the secular holiday pressures. If I’m not careful, I simply hand over the joy of my heart as I engage in the hopeless pursuit of my self-created version of Christmas perfection.
When we experience the emotional chaos of that kind of place, will we choose to return to a place of chara joy? Will we pause and refocus our hearts and minds on one fact? That fact that because Jesus came and brought great joy all those years ago, we can today consider it joy regardless of our circumstances. The opportunity to choose joy is due to one thing and one thing alone. Jesus is here. Will we look for Him? If we will, I know we will find Him. Peace.