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Choose Joy

Posted on May 1, 2021 at 11:40 AM

This week Worship Team practice got pretty silly. We were having a bit of a struggle with the sound system, and even the songs weren’t coming together like they usually do. The pressure was on since we were working on a special event that was coming up quickly.

But instead of getting stressed and worried, my amazing team began to joke and play. We started singing some really retro oldies, laughing and teasing each other, and before you know it everything started to come together on its own.

I say on its own… but I really mean that the Holy Spirit began to intervene in what we were doing. You see, worship isn’t just about the perfect chord structure or playing all the notes right. It’s not even about a talented singer or dedicated worship leader. Real worship is pure JOY.

We’re told in Genesis 1:27 that God created us in His own image. We know from those same Scriptures that God shows a wide range of emotions from anger to love. The difference is that our feelings can lead us to sin and despair, while His are righteous and come only from a place of love – there is no sin in Him.

So worship is, in part, a way to harness those very emotions in a godly and productive way. There is no better antidote to the uncertainty and pain of life than simple joy. Psalm 37:12 says that the “Lord laughs at the enemy for He sees his day coming”. God isn’t afraid or concerned, just busy trying to keep us on track. As His children we can have that same confidence. And there’s no better way to build it up than to laugh at the things that trouble us, even when we don’t feel like it.

We’re told over and over to practice joy. It seems counterintuitive to try and feel happy when we’re frustrated, afraid or angry, but I promise this is not just some psychobabble formula. From the depth of my own grief and pain I have found God waiting for me in the littlest moments of hilarity. Abraham Lincoln said “I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.” Smart words!

And if we can’t believe those words because our own pain is too great, we just need to turn back to the one place we know we can always find truth.

 

Psalm 100: Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.

Galatians 5: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. But the Spirit is love, joy, peace…

Psalm 63: For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy!

Psalm 30: His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 

There are all kinds of things they tell us to practice these days. Mindfulness, intention, positive thinking… I say it all boils down to a single thing -- practice joy. It may not always be our ‘go-to’ emotion, but it is the one thing we can always count on.

If we must work a job we hate, doing it with a spirit of resentment won’t make the time go by any faster. But doing it with joy and a sense of humor will give us perspective. Responding to a bully with the same kind of anger they are showing won’t de-escalate a bad situation but showing the softness and love that comes with joy – that will take the wind out of their sails.

When someone mistreats us or life seems unfair, we can make the choice to wallow around in self-pity and pain, but that’s not going to make it any easier to get through. In fact, all that nasty muck can just get us stuck. Great, right? Just what we need. To stay prisoner to the painful emotions a little longer. But choosing to find the joy in spite of the situation is what will begin to move us through the mess.

Just like at that worship team practice, our response – our choice – can be to find the little bits of joy even in the most agonizingly painful moments of life. There’s no shame in tears, and God understands our hurt and anger. He feels those emotions too, and I know God mourns with us whether our pain is random, caused by another, or self-inflicted.

But we have the power to decide if the inevitable hurt of our human existence is permanent or if we will grab ahold of the promised joy that will “come in the morning.” Let’s practice choosing joy. Let’s choose it together.

 

Be blessed, my Friend, God is on the throne.

 

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