As much as we wouldn't like it to, bad stuff happens sometimes. Those days are hard. There is no one who would tell us that they are not tough. When someone starts talking behind your back, that hurts. When that job you really wanted falls through, that is disappointing. When we lose someone we love, that is painful. The weather gets rough, the world gets cruel, people we love get sick or hurt, and just bad stuff happens.
But we are not defined by what happens to us...we are defined by how we react to what happens to us. When we are under pressure, what is really in our hearts will spill out...for good, or for bad. Anyone can be happy when life is going well. But choosing to be joyful when life is spinning out of control...that is a bit harder, but it can be done...and it should be done. Notice that I didn't say that we have to choose to be happy. I said, we can choose to be joyful. Happiness is an emotion. We are going to feel the way we feel. Sometimes it will be happy, sometimes it will be sad, sometimes it will be angry and sometimes it will even be numb. But to be joyful, is to literally be "full of joy" and that is a choice we can make regardless of our circumstances.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)
I love those verses and I try to live my life that way. I don't have to enjoy the circumstances of my day in order to find a way to rejoice. I suppose I'm a bit like Pollyanna playing the "glad game" in that respect. There is always something to be thankful for even in the midst of life's most challenging times. But we have to be willing to look for the good in every situation. Not everyone is willing to do that, but if you are, you would be amazed at the things you can see and the ways God works even through those difficult times. And the more we look for the good in every situation, the more things we will find to be joyful about.
Living this way, takes practice. But we serve an amazing God, who finds ways to show His love for us every day...no matter what we feel. He is there and He loves us...and that alone should be enough to make us joyful.
Watch carefully...what will God show you that you can be joyful about today?