For The Joy: Choosing Joy In Hard Seasons

Choosing Joy in Hard SeasonsFor the joy…

That phrase has been playing in my head for the better part of a week. It’s a phrase from Hebrews. Right after the list of the faithful like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who endured and trusted God, we read about a Man who surpasses them all in faithful living toward God’s calling.

Jesus.

Jesus, Son of God yet fully man “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

He is the author and perfecter of our faith.

But two thousand years ago, He was laid in a tomb, dead because of that cross–the cross that He chose. Why didn’t He fight back? Why did He let them take Him? Why did He let Himself be beaten and mocked and nailed? I can only imagine being one of those disciples following the crowd, watching what they did to Him. Why, Lord? Why?

For the joy…

Joy? Joy in death? Joy in being completely stripped and shamed? How can there be joy there?

Because Jesus saw the bigger picture. He knew why He came and He knew where He was going. He tried to tell His disciples that the night He was betrayed. “I am going to my Father.” He tried to tell them that it was better this way. That by going, His people would get something even better–His spirit to be with them forever (John 14:16). By sacrificing Himself, He would save many.

But that wasn’t how it looked to Jesus’ followers, huddled in a small upper room the day after He died, afraid to leave lest they be killed just as Jesus had. He was supposed to be Messiah, their Savior. But what kind of Savior allows Himself to be killed like that?

I bet those men and women had a lot of questions, a lot of fears, and none of them had joy. There was sorrow and tears and fear, but definitely no joy. They didn’t understand. Not yet anyway. Not until the next morning when the women went to the tomb to tend to his body. Not until they saw the stone removed and heard the angel’s voice saying, “He isn’t here for He has risen.” Not until Mary Magdalene heard Him say her name, or the disciples saw Him appear in the room, or Thomas saw the wounds in His hands and in His side. Not until He ascended and Jesus gave His Spirit and sent His disciples out to spread the Good News.

For the joy…

I think sometimes we complicate joy. It isn’t a feeling. It’s a state of being, a choice we make. Jesus has set before us life in Him or death apart from Him; and with that life we choose love, we choose joy, and we choose peace, all three completely independent upon our circumstances and our emotions. The King of all creation humbled Himself to that point, but He did it all for love and had great joy in it because He knew what it meant: by enduring, the entire world would be saved if only we believed in Him.

It makes my struggles look so small. If Jesus can choose joy and endure in such circumstances, I can too. And so can you.

For the joy…

For the joy set before us, we endure the hardships and the rejection; we endure financial stress and broken relationships; we endure situations we wish we could escape; we endure the desert seasons, the storms, and the seasons of great harvest. All for joy. Keeping our eyes locked on the author and perfecter of our faith. Because we know this isn’t eternal. We know that Christ has overcome.

Choose joy!

Live in His love!

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