by Kelly O’Dell Stanley
Guest Contributor

I was flattered when I was invited to participate in this devotional series as one of the writers. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling all that joyful, but that was OK. I figured I’d get past it. I kept moving the task forward on my to-do list, waiting for inspiration. Finally, it came—in the sense that my devo was due in two days and I needed to get off my rear end and write it.

So I wrote, and what I wrote was true. I’ve been in a rough season, a time of grief and stress, and “joyful” is not how I would describe it, but as I wrote, God reminded me of the reasons I have to feel joy. He reminded me who He is, and that joy is different than happiness. Happiness is fleeting, but joy comes from a much deeper place. A place of abiding in God. Of choosing to walk alongside Him even if the place you’re walking through isn’t all that pleasant.

When I hit “send,” I felt much lighter. More joyful.

And then one of the other writers posted in our private Facebook group about how she was struggling. She confessed that she didn’t feel joy right now and she was dreading writing about it. Several others chimed in immediately, full of understanding—because they’re struggling, too.

That’s when I decided to write another post – this one. Because if we’re all struggling—women whose ministry consists of encouraging other women and sharing God’s truths, women who were approached to share their insights about joy—then you probably are, too. Maybe you need to know you’re not alone. This isn’t a failing on your part. Your feelings don’t indicate a lack of faith or an absence of God.

The other thing is this: even when we weren’t feeling it initially, if some of us have been able to turn that around to find joy, you can too. Because I think living joyfully is a choice. It’s about focusing on what we know, not what we feel.

When we CHOOSE joy, we’re choosing to have faith. We’re choosing to trust. We’re turning away from our own fickle emotions and declaring that the bad stuff doesn’t define us. Evil, sadness, worry, misery, fear, darkness—those traps of the enemy do. not. win. Jesus does. Choosing joy is declaring that we’re not staying stuck in the muck and the mire but instead we’re believing God’s joy will dry the mud and pull us out of the pit we’ve fallen into.

So if you’re looking at this series and feeling like you do not belong here, do not despair. Joy IS there to be found. It can be seen when we abide in God. When we go to Him because of who He is, not because of what He can do for us. Let’s pull back from our problems and pray.

God, my hope is in You. You have saved me. You love me. You declared that I am worth everything You did for me. You want me to be with You. You take joy in me.

And I will not let that go unnoticed. I will not waste what You have given to me. I will live with joy. I will let You prevail. Because You are good and holy and kind and merciful. You are love, and You are light, and You are my hope and salvation. You are the very essence of joy, and I will allow myself to let Your joy shape my life.  Amen.

STUDY QUESTIONS:

  1. Would you describe yourself as a joy-filled person or not?
  2. If the answer is no, what is robbing you of your joy?
  3. Kelly mentions joy is a choice.  What does it mean to you to choose joy?
  4. What is one way you can begin choosing joy?

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

What are your thought on Joy vs. Happiness?  Do you think they are different?  Why or why not?  Share in the comments below

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Kelly O’Dell Stanley is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. A graphic designer who writes (or is it a writer who designs?), she’s also a redhead who’s pretty good at controlling her temper, a believer in doing everything to excess, and a professional wrestler of doubt and faith. She offers free prayer prompt calendars at kellyostanley.com and calls small-town Indiana her home.

 

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18 Comments

Jodie

I am a joy-filled person! And it IS a DAILY choice. I don’t always FEEL joyful, but I try and always choose to be FILLED with joy from Jesus. Stress and comparison try and rob me daily. Those are areas I certainly have control over most of the time. I can choose to slow down, to rest in Jesus, to turn off the noise, and social media. Happiness is temporary and fleeting, joy is eternal and comes from the Spirit. I’m so excited to be here, drinking in the words, and spending time to pursue real joy with you all!

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Stephanie K. Adams

Jodie, you are the most joyful person I know! And it reminds me daily to CHOOSE JOY for myself!

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Leigh Ellen

Joy always came naturally for me, but three years ago my life took a turn I never expected and joy has been hard to come by. I’ve felt like a failure in many ways for not being able to “manufacture” joy in this season. I want to be joyful, but it’s difficult when I don’t feel it. I’m excited for this series, because I want to learn all I can about joy and hopefully experience joy in a new way.

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Stephanie K. Adams

Leigh Ellen – I will be praying God will speak to your heart as we discuss joy over the next two weeks. I know it can be so hard to face others when we feel less than happy. But I think that is the part I have to remember – happiness isn’t joy and joy isn’t happiness. Happiness is a feeling and Joy is state of being. I feel like there is this socially acceptable way we are ‘supposed’ to act – happy and upbeat. And just like you said, those emotions can be so hard to manufacture. I have to remember I carry joy that is eternal on the inside of me.

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Kelly O Stanley

Leigh Ellen, you are certainly not alone and it’s NOT a failure on your part. Praying you can lean in and let God whisper to your heart. HE is the source of all joy, and it’s by spending time with Him that you will find what you’re looking for.

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Liz

Choosing joy for me means remembering that the joy Jesus gives me is eternal no matter what my circumstances tell me! Thanks for these encouraging words, Kelliy!

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Stephanie K. Adams

It is hard to choose joy in the midst of hard circumstances. But I am thankful we have eternal joy that we can focus on instead.

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Mitzi Neely

Thank you for sharing your heart Kelly. While I am pretty consistently a joyful person, there have been times in my life that I have struggled with finding joy. Fortunately, I have sweet sisters of faith who have helped ‘right the ship’ and kept me immersed in the Scriptures. I appreciate your honesty and look forward to sharing your message.

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Stephanie K. Adams

You truly are a joyful person, Mitzi. I am glad to know you so you can remind me of Joy on days when I need it.

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Shannon Geurin

Joy is a choice! Yes! I loved today’s devotion. I think I am a joy-filled person, but there are times when I certainly don’t feel joy, but as Kelly explained, it’s a choice. Thank you for this encouragement today!

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Stephanie K. Adams

This was such a great encouragement from Kelly today. I’m glad you joined us today, Shannon!

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Kelly O Stanley

I think society has taught us that joy is the same as happiness—bubbly, exuberant emotion. But happiness is fleeting, and joy runs deeper. It’s not always easy to CHOOSE joy, but I’m trying :-).

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