Written by: Ashley Sigrest
For many years I associated the word JOY with happiness. If I wasn’t happy in my life I didn’t feel joy. Joy in my mind meant smiling, showing an outward portrayal of inner happiness. If I was angry or sad I was definitely not being joyful.
I remember early in my walk with God reading James and seeing, “Count it ALL joy when you face trials of every kind,” and thinking how insane that sounded. I came from a hard past that I was still seeking freedom from. How could I look on these painful events and feel joyous about them? Surely that translation was wrong. Yet as I continued to read those verses in James, my spirit quickened and I understood that God would use that pain to grow me in my faith as well as help others who will walk similar paths. My sorrow wasn’t all for nothing.
Hebrews 12 tells us that Jesus even counted the pain of the Cross as joyous because He knew the lasting effects it would have on humanity and the Kingdom of God.
In the midst of our hard times we can trust the sovereignty of God and know that through our endurance of trials and sufferings He is there with us. We can know in faith that He will use even our darkest valleys to strengthen us in Him.
Joy is not an outward sign of inner happiness, but a fruit of the Holy Spirit that we are given the moment we surrender our lives to Jesus. You may have seen t-shirts or other merchandise saying, “Choose Joy.” I used to even have a sign in my home with it. The ironic thing is, as Christians we can’t just simply choose joy in the midst of hard seasons. When we surrender our lives to Christ the Holy Spirit lives within us and He gives us all His fruits (Galatians 5:22-23) to begin growing in them. Therefore it’s not so much choosing joy as it is activating the joy we already possess. Joy is our birthright in Christ!
The Christmas season can be burdensome if we find ourselves alone or if we are experiencing heartache in our lives. Burdens can easily pile on with the colossal to-do lists we make for shopping, preparing our homes, and serving our family and friends. We can let these issues weigh us down so much that we lose sight of the joy in this advent season.
Our joy, just like our hope, is in Jesus our Savior. We rejoice in knowing that He is our Healer and that we get the opportunity to serve Him when we serve others. Our burdens are opportunities to grow and become more like Him. What greater joy is there to be had this Christmas? Let’s activate the joy of knowing our Savior is with us and our Joy is Jesus, our Messiah.
Ashley is a self-professed dork who loves sharing the Gospel and digging deeper into Scripture! She wants to live her life in such a way it inspires others to passionately seek Jesus and have Lively Faith. She’s a happily married homeschooling momma to four blessings who runs on Holy Spirit power, coffee, and laughter.
You can find her writing about her faith and crazy life at aLivelyFaith.com or over on Instagram. Ashley serves in her local church and community and enjoys helping other women grow in their spiritual gifts.