And now, 20 years later, my desire is to be that girl, that girl who chooses joy in all circumstances.
The first part of John 10:10 says this,
"The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy."
And I ask you this: What is your thief? What has come to steal, kill, and destroy your joy?
Is it worry?
Are you worried about how you are going to make ends meet until the next paycheck? Are you worried what your test results will be when you meet with your doctor? Are you worried what life will be like when your child goes off to college? Are you worried about your husband when he leaves for deployment?
What are you worried about?
Is it fear?
Are you afraid you aren't good enough? Are you afraid the treatments won't work? Are you afraid your wayward child won't return? Are you afraid to let your child behind the wheel without you? Are you afraid of how war will change your spouse?
What are you afraid of?
Is it insecurity?
Do you wonder if you are a good enough mom, if you are messing up your kids? Do you wonder if your husband really and truly loves you? Do you wonder if your coworkers are secretly talking about you? Do you wonder if you are special? Do you wish you could change your body, get rid of that muffin top, smooth those cellulite thighs, or just buy flowy tops to cover up all of your flaws?
What are you insecure about?
The list can go. Questions can continue to arise. All of those doubts and fears and insecurities are thieves out to destroy our joy, our peace, and our hope. But wait. Listen to the second part of John 10:10:
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
And that is the sound of Christ reminding us that our joy comes from Him. Those are the words of hope, peace, and love.
Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would have trouble in this world. He never promised life would be easy, so why do we think we are exempt from sorrow? As Christians, we endure trials for many reasons. I won't claim to know them all, but I think some of our trials are due to sin (ours and others) and so that we can grow in our faith and relationship with Christ.
I would never hope to experience any type of difficulty. However, I do know that when everything seems to be right in the world, we don't depend on God as much. We don't grow closer to him. But the moment our faith is shaken and tested, we reach out to Him. We want Him to fix things. And we aren't the only ones. In fact, Israel did the same thing. In Jeremiah 2:27, we are told that Israel turned her back on God, "but in times of trouble they cry out to me, 'Come and save us!'"
And that's us, isn't it? Sometimes. In times of trouble we want God. We call out to Him to come save us and fix everything.
We shouldn't wait for times of trouble to call on God. He wants us to be with Him each and every day. He should be our priority. He should be the first one we talk to in the morning and the last one we talk to at bedtime. We should thank Him and praise Him on the good days and the bad days.
The best way we can choose joy is to become armed and dangerous against the thief: know God's Word.
Romans 8:31 asks us "If God is for us, then who can be against us?" We are our own worst enemies. Satan knows our worries and fears and insecurities, and he will use those to drag us down and destroy our joy. To defeat him, we must "put on the full armor of God" and not forget about "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God," (Ephesians 6:11,17).
Often, we wonder WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? We know from the Bible that Jesus himself used God's living word against Satan. Luke 4:1-13 tells us how Jesus used scripture as Satan tempted him. And if Jesus uses scripture to fight Satan, so should we!
So my challenge for you is this: Spend some extra time each day in God's word. Ask Him to speak to you through it. He will. God's word is alive. God's word is powerful. God's word will add joy to your life.