“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11)
Most people can look back on happy moments in their lives. Yes, I got my dream job! Yes, I’ll totally marry you! Yes, I’m at a luau in Hawaii! When we look back on the highlight reel of our lives, we remember the feelings of bliss and satisfaction, and we associate those feelings with joy.
But what about those other times when our lives fell apart and we were faced with struggle and pain? When we look back on those times, we may remember feeling disappointment, despair, and desperation.
Where is joy in those moments? Is it possible for joy and tears to dwell together? Is it really possible to be joyful in every season of life?
The answer is, yes! We were created by God to be filled with joy at all times. We can be disappointed, in pain, or weeping but still have joy. It’s common and easy for us to confuse happiness with joy. Happiness says something about our circumstances. Joy says something about our faith.
Kay Warren wrote the book, Choose Joy. Here is a quote that gives an interesting and valuable explanation of joy:
“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 all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
Today, let’s talk about the first part of this definition of joy: Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of our lives. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23). A “settled assurance” means we made up our mind about it, it’s settled, and nothing will change our mind. In this case, what we’ve settled is that God directs our steps, he has a vision for our lives, and he controls every detail of our lives.
Settled assurance means we trust God regardless of the ups and downs we encounter in life.
St. Theresa of Lisieux is an example of joy and steadfast assurance. She had an encounter with God at age 14 and entered a convent to devote her life to God. She lived each day with unshakable confidence in God’s love and direction. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.
In the last month of her life, struggling with disease, she said, “What God chooses for me, that is what pleases me.” She wanted what God wanted for her life. St. Theresa lived with joy because of her settled assurance of God’s control of her life.
Really, how could we ask for anything other than what God chooses for us? Could our feeble human brains construct a life better than the life God plans for us? Of course not!
To live with joy, we must give up control of our lives and offer that control up to our Father who loves us. In the words of Carrie Underwood, we let Jesus take the wheel. We rejoice in his plan, find joy in living out his will for our lives, and fully trust his direction.
God has a perfect plan for our lives, and that plan includes a heart overflowing with joy.
Dear God, I give you glory. I praise you for your love, mercy, and grace. Lord, in the middle of the good, bad, awesome, and overwhelming, let me rest in you. Quiet my doubts. Give me a settled assurance of your goodness, your love, and your involvement in the details of my life. As I delight in your plan, let me experience your joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.