We’ve alI seen the quote, “Today, I choose joy.” But can we be honest for a second? Sometimes, choosing joy is hard and there are moments when we don’t always want to do it. So how do you choose joy? The truth is you have to fight for it. Here’s how.
1. Recognize the Warfare
We have to understand that the enemy will do anything to stop us from walking in the plans and purposes that God has for us. If he can’t stop our destiny (which he knows he can’t), he will settle for stealing our joy in the process. It can look like:
- Being overwhelmed with life and feeling anxious
- Losing your job and feeling defeated
- Not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing with your life and feeling discouraged
- Arguing with your significant other and feeling frustrated
- Feeling tired and unmotivated to spend time with God
And there are several reasons why the enemy does this.
- He wants to steal the joy of your salvation that comes from being a child of God.
- He wants to thwart the plans and purposes God has for you.
- He wants to stop God’s desire to develop, mature, and prosper you.
But I once heard this sermon a long time ago where the pastor said that an indication you’re close to victory is the level of attack you receive prior to it. Whether that looks like maturing in God or walking in His promises, the stronger the attack, the closer AND greater the promise.
The truth is having joy is a gift and promise from God. When you find your joy being compromised, it’s a sign that who you are and what you carry is significant. I mean think about it. Why would the enemy attack anyone that isn’t important to God? That’s counter intuitive for him. First, recognize the spiritual warfare and then be encouraged by the truth that your impact has eternal value. Your career is important. Your marriage is special. Your purpose has power.
No matter what you’ve been through or what you’re going through, in Christ, what’s coming is always better than what’s been. And your light and momentary troubles including hardships and warfare are achieving for you an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).
2. Make the Decision
The second way to fight for joy is to make the decision to do it. Sometimes we just want to mope around and feel sorry for ourselves. Trust me, I know firsthand! I was the reigning queen and host of the pity party. My natural default was to cry about every little mishap and play the victim.
This is not to say that life doesn’t have its challenges, but there is a difference between taking time to process our feelings and choosing to live in our discouragement or disappointment.
Remember when we were in school and we would all have fire drills? Most of the time, it was a casual experience because we all knew there wasn’t a real emergency. Many of us look at our spiritual lives in the same way. We are too casual when the Bible tells us to be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8). Can I just be the first to gently remind you that…
This. Is. Not. A. Drill.
The enemy loves to set traps and he will do anything he can to keep a believer like you and me bound and stuck from moving forward to include trying to steal our joy. We see so many examples of this in the Bible from David to Nehemiah to Esther.
When you find yourself struggling to have joy, make the decision that you will not have it. When fear or anxiety begins to creep in, get an attitude with the enemy and draw a line in the sand. Let him know that you are FED. UP. and he no longer has any authority to mess with you, your purpose, your marriage, your friends or your family.
If there’s a voice that’s saying anything that doesn’t align with God’s word, let me help you. It’s the devil and he is a liar (John 8:44). Remind him (and yourself) that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
3. Reflect on Your Response
We have to be mindful of our natural defaults to life situations. Take some time to reflect on yours. Do you normally get sad and want to cry? Do you get lazy and unproductive, retreating to eating and laying in bed all day? Do you normally get angry and want to tell someone off?
Identify your responses, and then identity the triggers that cause you to respond that way. Having this self-awareness is HUGE. We just said the enemy will do anything to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and he knows exactly where you are vulnerable, even when you may not. But once you are self-aware, your spiritual senses are heightened. You are able to detect when you are being attacked, and then you can use your offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, aka God’s Word, to fight for your joy.
4. Get Dressed
It might sound silly but this one small act can make a big difference. I’m not saying it’s about our outward appearances. Our hearts are what matters, but we’ve all heard the phrase, when you look good, you feel good!
Be proactive about making small changes that will help you feel better on the inside even if that means getting up, getting dressed, and getting out the house. Put on your favorite outfit. If you need to put on the false lashes and wear the bold lip knowing good and well you never wear makeup, do it anyways.
You’d be amazed how a good outfit or a nice pair of heels will make you feel like you can conquer anything. Spoiler alert? You already have the victory, so it’s okay for you to look the part!
5. Stop Complaining
Have you ever been talking about a situation so much that you work yourself up and put yourself in a bad mood? Same, girl, same. We have to be careful of the moments when we want to sit in our own sorrow or frustration.
Proverbs 18:7 says that our mouths can be our undoing and the snares to our lives. Complaining is the easiest way to keep us stuck in our feelings. Do not give the enemy a foothold. Be intentional with your words, and choose to speak life over yourself instead. Choose worship over complaints. If you struggle with doing this, then I encourage you to sign up for #TheConfessionsProject.
But of course, I give all of these tips with the most important one being to seek God in everything. He is our refuge and shield. He will take care of us, and thanks be to God that He will always be on our side fighting for us. Tell me some ways you plan to fight for your joy! I would love to hear your thoughts.
Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to provide the millennial woman with fun and practical resources that help them confidently believe who God has called them to be. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy, drinking iced chai lattes from Starbucks, and connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!