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When Choosing Joy Isn't Enough - iBelieve Truth - April 12, 2024

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

A few years ago, I felt exhausted and annoyed as I walked around our backyard watering the flowers and plants. It was supposed to be my husband’s job as he’s the gardener in our family. I have a hard time keeping plants alive, but he was injured—an injury that occurred during a guy’s trip while I was holding down the fort at home. One night, while camping with friends, he was chopping wood for their fire and accidentally hit his foot with the axe. Not only did he hit his foot, but he broke a bone and hit an artery. 

Thankfully, a paramedic at another campsite could assist him while they waited for the ambulance. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, he underwent emergency surgery. The hospital was five hours away, and this was during 2020 when I wouldn’t have been allowed in the hospital anyway, so I was forced to sit at home and anxiously await updates. 

Of course, I was grateful they got to the hospital in time because there were moments we feared he might lose his leg or, worse, his life, yet here I stood, hose in hand, throwing myself a pity party. Life suddenly required more of me, adding things to my full plate. Yard work, taking out the trash, and doing everything for my husband. He was bedridden for weeks and couldn’t do anything for himself. 

It was the worst possible time for this accident to happen. Our youngest had recently started kindergarten, and after years of being a stay-at-home mom, I had an opportunity I was excited to pursue. All the weeks we had designated for me to prepare for this opportunity were gone. It all felt so unfair. 

As I watered the pink poppies, I snapped a picture. I was going to post it on social media with a few words about choosing joy. But as I sat on our patio and tried to write a caption, I realized I disagreed with that sentiment. I needed to sit with my emotions without feeling convicted to choose joy amidst my circumstances—a struggle I don’t think I’m alone in. Yes, we shouldn’t continuously throw ourselves a pity party, but choosing joy isn’t constructive if we do it to cover our feelings temporarily like a band-aid.

When it comes to our emotions and circumstances, putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to push through gets the job done for a while but eventually can become dangerous. A posture of pushing through can lead to us inadvertently closing ourselves off from God. Instead, he wants us to draw near. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” We are usually the only ones invited to our pity parties, but He wants us to come to him, especially when choosing joy doesn’t feel like enough, when we feel anxious, weary, hurt, bothered, and broken. 

When Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” he is not saying to choose joy in every situation but reminding us that we can always find contentment in Christ despite our circumstances. We can be joyful because we know we serve a living, sovereign God amidst our ever-changing emotions. 

That day in my backyard, I realized God wasn’t asking me to choose joy. He was inviting me to draw near to Him in the midst of my circumstances, as irritating as they were. I needed that reminder later that day when I had to wrangle the kids to the baseball field, clean up from dinner, and do bath and bedtime by myself. When it feels hard to choose joy, choose Him—His presence and promises.

Lord, thank you for being a God who tells us to draw near and lets us lay all of our feelings at your feet—the moments when we feel burdened, overwhelmed, frustrated, annoyed, and like life’s unfair. When we are not feeling content in our season or circumstances, may we remember we can rejoice because you are where we find our greatest contentment. You alone are where we can always find joy. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Marjan Apostolovic

sarah nichols headshot 2Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves to encourage women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ with her high school sweetheart and their four kids. You can find more from Sarah at her blog http://sarahnicholswrites.com and on Instagram @sarahnicholswrites.

Related Resource: Spring Clean Your Life: 10 Simple Tips for a Joyful Home & Work Life

Are you a Christian mom trying to juggle work and home? You're not alone! I'm Rebekah Scott, host of The Encourager Podcast, where I share insights gained from 15+ years of balancing family and running a business. My aim is to help you find harmony inall your important roles. Join me as we explore ways to create systems for success at home and work while keeping it real!

In this episode, we're simplifying spring cleaning with two easy tips for each of our five systems: Me, Food, Family, Work and Home. Join us as we explore practical ways to bring joy and simplicity into your home and work life! And if you love what you hear, be sure to subscribe on Apple or Spotify so you never miss an episode! 

Originally published Friday, 12 April 2024.