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The Power of Declaring Joy

The Power of Declaring Joy

This Christmas, choose joy. Sometimes the choice is an exultation.  Sometimes the choice is a declaration.

Zachary is my six-year-old. His life is full of joy. In fact, during this otherwise difficult season, he is more full of joy than usual.

His life would usually be pretty busy with end-of-year events and being dragged to swim and dance gatherings for his siblings. But this year, much of this has been canceled in light of the community spread of the virus.

So, he has filled his reclaimed time with extra helpings of videos games, YouTube videos, and food requests directed at his mother.

Full. Of. Joy.

But, if I am being honest, Zachary is a bit of a unicorn right now. Totally unique. Most people are in some stage of grief. So much has been lost. So many things we value have been canceled, rescheduled, taken away.

This season will pass…but it is certainly lingering.

I think what makes it so difficult is that we are so overwhelmed with a mountain of information and aren’t real sure what we can trust. Are we almost out of the woods? Or, will there be 10 more years of winter?

Your guess is as good as mine!

There is so little about our circumstances that we can control and that lack of clarity – lack of control – creates an almost universal sense of anxiety.

I have been reminded this season that although we cannot control our circumstances, we are able to control our response to these circumstances.

Some days when I wake, it is easy for me to respond to my circumstances with joy. Sun is out. Skies are Tarheel blue. Kids are at peace. Work is on autopilot. On those days, joy is an exultation. Praise. Thanksgiving. There are days when choosing joy is, well, a joy!

But, most days, at least right now, I get up and have to acknowledge that choosing joy isn’t an exultation, but a declaration! I don’t feel it, I don’t initially mean it, and nothing in my day demands joy at all. On those days, I am declaring that I am going to live today with joy…and just hoping my heart catches up with my mouth before bed.

It’s not just wishful thinking. The Psalmist said, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) In the presence of God, joy is there in its fullness. No matter my life circumstances, I can choose joy because I’m in the presence of the risen Lord.

Making a declaration of joy matters because our words matter. The way we speak about our circumstances will not change the circumstances, but it will certain change our attitude as we face those circumstances. As the Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

This season shall pass. Sooner or later. But until it does, in the morning when you rise choose joy. Declare it to be true because joy is promised in God’s presence. Choose joy!

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Chris Lawson

Founder of, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

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