If there's one thing our present age pushes, one agenda everyone seems to get behind it's this, "Do what makes you happy." Here's my opinion on the matter. Forgive me in advance for being blunt... It's a bunch of crap. Please, don't fall for this lie!
I get so angry when I see or hear this, not because I want everyone to be as grumpy as the Grinch, no! On the contrary, I want people to choose Joy.
What's the difference?
The Happy motto says if you aren't happy with what you're doing with your life, your marriage, your job, etc, then get out of it! Get a divorce, change jobs, travel the world.
Joy's motto is to find the jewels amongst the junk and keep persevering as you climb the mountain. Hold on to tenacity and keep adventuring.
Joy is the silver lining in a world full of dark gloomy clouds.
There are many things in my life I could get really angry about, and honestly, I have. I've pounded my keyboard in frustration, filled the silence of my house with the most dramatic bawling sessions ever and even told my closest family and friends, "I give up!" I get close too.
I tell myself I'm done with a certain situation, that those people are gonna know how I REALLY feel. And I pound the keys to write them a monologue of rage. But then, surprisingly enough, Joy stops me. That saucy little minx!
Just when I've worked myself up Joy tells me to find the silver lining in my situation and hold on until the clouds roll away.
Once a few years ago, I was hanging laundry in my back yard, something I LOVE to do (can you hear the sarcasm?) and as I grabbed the next peg the sky went dark. I grumbled quietly to myself and bickered to God about how inconvenient it would be if it rained. But in my stubbornness, I kept pegging my clothes and willed the sky to brighten.
At some point during my rant, I heard that still small voice tell me to "Look up". I did and what I saw was very disorienting.
When it had grown dark, I'd imagined the whole sky full of clouds, but I'd never actually looked up, I just ranted to God and kept pegging my clothes. When I finally did glance up all that had happened was one small, dark cloud had stepped right in front of the sun, blocking its brightness from the world around me.
I was speechless.
I'd taken a molehill and turned it into a mountain.
This little story is a constant reminder to me that regardless of my situations, or how dark I think my world is getting, especially now in light of the coronavirus. I have no idea how big or small the cloud really is but I know that turning into a rage monster about it isn't going to do anyone any good.
Life is tough. Situations suck, there are times we must mourn and cry. Times where we're facing on expansive sky of dark, boiling clouds, but I guarantee you, there is still Joy to be found.
Regardless of how big the storm there's still a silver lining because God is still good.
I recently came across this verse, "... and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy." (Ps. 19:5b, emphasis mine) It got me thinking ... Choosing the road of Happiness is for the weak. It takes a strong man to run a race and still be joyful at the end.
Maybe I'm taking this verse out of context, but the principle still applies. I've volunteered at enough Ironman Marathons to know how much strength it takes for the winner to still raise their arms and smile in victory. I've seen competitors less than a mile away from the finish line have to stop because their muscles physically won't cooperate anymore.
Choosing Joy is not for the faint of heart, but it's what God calls us to do. Weeping may last for the night, but His Joy does come in the morning and most importantly we must realize and know it's His Joy that gives us the strength to carry on and keep moving forward.
Recently, I was visiting one of the oldest castle ruins in Scotland. It hugs the coast of Loch Ness and has thousands and thousands of untold stories about the people and events that went on there. At one point the place was sacked by those living there to keep it from being a home and defense for the enemy.
As I was taking in this ancient place, searching the dark waters of the loch for Nessie and pondering where life has taken me, I found myself starting to worry about many things. Covid-19, a visa situation in a land I've called home for 12 years and the possibility of not being allowed to live there anymore -- what would that mean for my future, where was my future, and what even am I doing with my life -- were all questions that started to pile up in my head.
I didn't want to think about such things in this beautiful place but I couldn't stop myself. Then I heard that gentle voice tell me to turn around. I'd been focused on the distant horizon, where the sky met the distant shore in golden rimmed clouds, it was beautiful and terrifying, but what lay behind me was what God wanted me to see.
When I turned, I saw a brilliant rainbow arching over the castle ruins. It was magical. Complete with a breeze that whispered hope. Standing in this wildness, in the midst of the most gentle storm ever, God spoke to me with that rainbow.
It was a promise.
A promise that no matter what life throws at me that He will be there. It's not that everything is going to be well, it's that even in the dark He will be there. It's like the Pevensie children when they asked about Aslan.
It's not safe, but that there will be goodness in the wild.
Whatever difficulties you may be facing right now, I hope you cling to Jesus and choose Joy, because I know he'll lift you on to his shoulders, point to the roiling clouds with a twinkle in his eye and show you those hidden silver linings.
Knowing this has changed my perspective of the storm. I get excited when I see it coming because I know my Papa God is gonna pull me closer, take me deeper, and I'll be a richer person because of this present struggle -- because even spiritual and mental muscles have to be strained in order to grow.
So, how about it ... you with me?