How would you define joy?
My favorite definition is one by Kay Warren: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
This definition contains several life-changing truths:
- Trusting in God’s sovereignty over every detail of our lives brings joy.
As much as we like to think we’re in control of our circumstances…we’re not. Clinging to this misperception yields only unfulfilled expectations and stress.
I find peace in knowing that nothing that happens to me is a surprise to God. He knows everything that’s going to happen long before it actually takes place, and He has a plan. Just as He saw the path through the Red Sea when the Israelites saw only waves, so He is still in control of all things today.
Why fear? Why stress? Why not rest in God’s care and sovereignty? He’s got our backs. Walking in this truth brings joy.
- Trusting in God’s sovereignty assures me that everything’s going to be okay.
We wrestle with needless worry when we entertain the what-ifs. “What if the worst possible scenario becomes reality in my situation? Then what?” Our thoughts carry us from Point A to Point B in a nanosecond, and fear grips us.
How about flipping the mental switch? Rather than thinking What if such-and such happens, let’s think Even if such-and-such happens…
Even if the worst possible scenario happens, God is still in control. He’s able to turn the hard places of life into fertile fields and places of growth. He’s able to bring calm to the chaos and good from situations that we would consider hopeless. Everything’s going to be alright. Therein lies reason for joy.
- Trusting in God’s sovereignty empowers me to praise Him in every circumstance.
When bad things happen, our emotions want to do anything but praise God and give thanks. But the knowledge that He’s in control ought to give us the power to overcome negative emotions and do what’s right—praise the One who reigns from the heavens with perfect purposes that nearly always exceed our imagination.
Praising God shifts our focus from our fears and failures to the character of the One who never disappoints or abandons us. This shifts our perspective, too, and we begin to see beyond the temporal to the eternal. Pain, sorrow, frustration, and fear fade as we begin to see our situation through His eyes. And joy is born.
These truths have made a huge difference in my life in the past months. I pray that they’ll bless you today, and that they’ll foster and grow joy in your life, too.
What particular aspect of this discussion means the most to you and why?