WRITTEN BY: Wendy Cutchins
Have you ever struggled to have joy in life?
The truth is, you can choose joy. In the first chapter of the book of James, three statements stand out that I want you to consider. Let me start by sharing an experience I had around this same time last year.
My husband and I spend the first week of each year reviewing the previous year’s goals and making new ones. Each year, I have a notebook in which I list all of the things that I want to accomplish or focus on for the following year. In January of 2019, I reviewed my list from 2018 and remembered how I felt at the time. In 2018, I was struggling with anxiety, self-doubt, and exhaustion in almost every area of my life. I even wrote the following statement in my notebook, “I feel bad more than I feel good.” This brings us to the first statement from James that I want you to consider.
“Count it all joy.”
Part of the process of reflection and goal-setting was to determine what beliefs I currently had that were limiting me in what I could accomplish. On the very next page of my notebook, I changed the limiting belief into a truth that allowed me to accomplish my goals and be used more powerfully by God.
I replaced “I feel bad more than I feel good” with “I can choose to have joy in everything, good or bad.” This realization changed my whole year and is still impacting how I deal with every situation I encounter. James also helps give us focus on the purpose of tough times.
“The testing of your faith produces endurance.”
So let’s get some perspective here. The truth is you don’t HAVE to go to work; you GET to go to work. You don’t HAVE to make dinner for your family; you GET to make dinner for your family. You don’t HAVE to do the laundry; you GET to do the laundry.
Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I am Mrs. Positivity 24/7. That laundry one is tough for me. I have to work at it and consistently pray to ask for God’s help, but it is possible because God has wired us up to have joy in Him.
Despite the challenges and obstacles you encounter in life; God has blessed you. Let me encourage you to guard yourself from allowing the chaos of your situation to blind you from seeing God’s blessings. One way to ensure you see things from God’s perspective is to ask Him for wisdom. James makes a promise about wisdom.
“If you lack wisdom, ask God.”
Have you ever hesitated to ask for something you really wanted? I definitely have, because asking is not always easy. Often I will hesitate to ask for things I really need because I am fearful of rejection. But we can’t let fear slow us down. We all need more wisdom. James says all you have to do is ask. God gives wisdom “generously to all” when we ask in faith.
Remember, your joy doesn’t come from the things of this world. Joy comes from the One who gives wisdom, confidence, assurance, strength, and everything else that you need to navigate through this life. Have you ever struggled to have joy in life? The truth is, you can choose joy.