I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions. Goals that will be broken and plans that I know I will struggle to follow through on. But, after a difficult 2016 God laid on my heart that 2017 needed to be a year of joy for me. I prayed about it, thought about it and meditated on that word for much of early 2017. And God truly did honor my request and help me to choose joy on days where I just didn’t think it was possible. There were times after Ben passed away that I thought choosing joy was just not going to happen again; and then days where God gave me immeasurable strength to find the good in something I had almost missed. And while I wasn’t always successful, there are three reasons why I am glad that I chose this year of all years to choose joy.
- It reminded me of God’s promises. The more writing, thinking, and praying about joy that I did this year, the more I learned about the importance of having joy. And the more time that I spend looking for joy, the more I find places to find joy. Ezekiel 34:26 says, “I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings.” These days I try to spend more time looking for the blessings then reflecting on all the missed opportunities and things lost. And on days when it seems far away I try to reflect on Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” And I pray He helps me find the joy that seems impossible.
- It instilled a sense of joy in my children too. The word joy is plastered all over my house, on my jewelry, and frequently flowing from my mouth. While my children can’t all read, they recognize that word everywhere we go and get excited to tell me that they see it. 3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” There is nothing like watching children bounce back from hurt feelings and broken relationships and seeing them radiate with joy within just a few minutes. They may hurt for a moment, but they pick themselves up and jump right back into life. Oh how I pray that I can be that resilient in my attitude of joy!
- I couldn’t have made it through this year without it. 2017 was lightyears harder than 2016, but now with almost the entire year behind me, I feel like my outlook is broader, my heart is stronger, and I am more ready for what lies ahead then what I was last year at this time. James 1:2, 3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” I have not reached the stage where I am jumping for joy at trials yet, but staying joyful this year has definitely required perseverance.
2017 was a year of both trial and joy and I am incredibly thankful for the lesson God started teaching me about joy before the biggest trials hit. If you are going through a rough season, I encourage you to try to live a life of joy this coming year. You will be surprised by how much God blesses you, and in the ways it will bless those around you too! Because “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:5)
***Here are a few of the verses about joy that have encouraged me in my journey this year:
- Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
- Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
- Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.
- Deuteronomy 16:15 The Lord your God will bless you… and your joy will be complete.
- Proverbs 15:15 The cheerful heart has a continual feast.
- Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength.
- Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.
- Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.