New Year of JOY

Happy New Year! That’s the traditional wish at midnight when New Year’s Eve turns into New Year’s Day. For some, that’s a tall order. Happiness, after all, can be difficult to find. And once found, hard to maintain.

It’s slippery. It tends to slide through our fingers. The harder we try to hang on, the quicker it slips away.

It gains weight. Just like me in my middle-age belly bulge, happiness gets heavier the longer we carry it. What once made us happy, now only partially satisfies. We need something more – something bigger. Maybe something more expensive.

It that way happiness is like a drug. We grow used to it. We need more mirth, more games, more parties, more friends, more…, more…, more… You fill in the gaps.

Maintaining happiness wears us down. Just ask those pageant contestants. Smiling becomes a chore. It also become a lie. Anyone who says they’re happy all the time, has lost touch with reality. As with any good thing, too much of it can lead to something bad.

Pretending to be happy all the time, only covers up how you’re really feeling. That’s a lot of pressure, having to put on a happy face whenever you’re not alone. It can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and may make you feel as if you’re leading a double life. The real you that you can’t let anyone see. And the public you. The one that’s always happy. If this is something you enjoy, you should seriously consider moving to Hollywood.

Jesus wants the real you. He wants others to see the real you, too. Even when you’re not happy. True relationships cannot have solid foundations unless you’re free to show the real you with all your warts and unhappiness.

That’s why this New Year, I’m suggesting a revised saying. At midnight, wish those around you a Joyous New Year! Why joy? Because joy isn’t an emotion. It’s a state of mind – a choice.

When we choose joy, we are not saying we’ll always be happy. On the contrary, we understand that there will be times when we are indeed happy, but there will also be times when we are sad. No matter the emotion, through it, we can live in joy.

Joy is knowing we have a Savior who loved us enough to die for us. Joy is the thrill of the resurrection. Joy is the sight of a new baby, or a child, even if they are ill or injured, because they are God’s miracles, created in His image.

We can live from a position of joy even in the midst of trouble. We can live for joy when there seems no other reason to go on. We can live in joy when God answers prayer or sends blessings.

I challenge you to choose JOY this new year. I pray you will experience the joy walking hand-in-hand with Jesus can bring, and that your joy will run over and flood the neighborhood.

In 2019 let the Joy of the Lord be your Strength.