I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11 NLT
How happy is your life? Do you jump up every morning and dash excitedly from task to task because you have confidence that everything you try will work?
Yeah? Me neither.
Most days it takes a heaping helping of faith for me to crawl out of bed to face my to-do list. Life is hard. It’s a constant struggle of trying to make ends meet, supporting people who need me, giving generously (and cheerfully), and fulfilling my God-calling.
Honestly? I just want a nap.
But I also know that rejoice is a verb. Sure, it’s a noun too, but most of the times I find it in Scripture, the Lord is talking about rejoicing as an action we’re supposed to take. That means it’s a choice. It’s something we can do or not, and it’s up to us.
So how does that work? How can you rejoice when you don’t feel like it? How can you choose joy when life keeps giving you reasons to be sad? How can you be happy when life isn’t happy at all?
This is what the Lord is teaching me.
Do what you can. (Proverbs 16:3)
We all have impossible problems, but even if you can’t fix it, you can do something. Do what you can. Fix what you can fix, and give the rest to God. Trust Him with what you can’t do.
Don’t give up. (2 Timothy 2:3)
God never promised that following Him would be easy. Quite the opposite actually (John 16:33). We’re going to face challenges. Jesus says so repeatedly throughout Scripture. But we know God has His own timetable, and He’s never late (2 Peter 3:8-9). So don’t give up on what He’s doing in your heart, in your life, and in your world. He’s got a plan. Give Him the chance to keep His promise to you.
Feel what you feel. (Psalm 34:18)
Surprise! God gave us emotions. You have permission to feel sad or hurt or discouraged when life is wrong. Experiencing negative emotion doesn’t make you a failure as a Christ-follower. It makes you human. David expressed his feelings to God honestly in the Psalms, and we should too. Feel what you feel, but choose your actions based on truth (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Look for the good. (Romans 12:12)
You can acknowledge that life is hard without embracing a negative life perspective (Job 13:15). Spend time with God and let Him transform how you see your life. When you trust that God can truly do anything, your challenges suddenly become opportunities He can use.
Take one step at a time. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Choosing to believe in Jesus saves you immediately (Romans 10:13), but you still have your sin nature to contend with (Romans 7:15-17). You aren’t going to get it right every day. No one does. But God remembers that we aren’t perfect (Psalm 103:14), and He offers us grace for the journey of life.
Remember where home is. (Philippians 3:20)
Heaven is our home, but for now, we are in this world as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) with a message of reconciliation for those around us. We have a purpose here. And no matter how difficult life is, we can always remember that this life isn’t our full destiny (Hebrews 13:14-15).
God didn’t promise us a happy life, but He did promise us a good future. We can rejoice in that, because He always keeps His promises. So choose to be happy, even when life isn’t.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA)
About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks won’t match. An AWSA Golden Scrolls finalist and an editor at Uncommon Universes Press, she believes that God works miracles through stories. Learn more about her coaching services at www.amycwilliams.com and subscribe to her daily devotional emails at www.alwayspeachy.com.
Join the conversation. What helps you get through the times when rejoicing is a challenge?