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Choosing to be pleasant regardless of outside circumstances, which ultimately lifts the spirits of others.

Devotional Thought

Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-30; Philippians 4:10-13.

If anyone had reason not to be joyful it was the Apostle Paul. In spite of numerous perils and persecutions, Paul remained upbeat and positive. His list of sufferings is identified in the above passage from 2 Corinthians and is more than most could bear. However, a Christian can experience genuine joy that isn't dependent upon outward circumstances. Those who are walking close to God can have joyful hearts no matter what happens to them. In contrast, what the world calls "joy" is better named "happiness." It comes and goes, depending upon external factors.

It has been said that happiness is when you are happy because of your circumstances while joy is when you are happy in spite of your circumstances. Joy can also be described as "feeling contentment and peace inside because God's in charge outside." Joy isn't based on emotional feelings or events. It is a deep, ongoing certainty and feeling of peace that no matter how rotten life is, God's still in control through every situation. Though your self-image may take a beating, real joy is knowing God loves you deeply and unconditionally.

Paul Sailhammer says, "Joy is that deep settled confidence that God is in control of every area of my life." Tim Hansel believes, "Joy is not a feeling; it is a choice. It is not based upon circumstances; it is based upon attitude. It is free, but it is not cheap. It is the by-product of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a promise, not a deal. It is available to us when we make ourselves available to Him. It is something that we can receive by invitation and by choice. It requires commitment, courage and endurance." He also states, "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy. God has given us such immense freedom that He will allow us to be as miserable as we want to be."

There is no question that the day-to-day grind of life is difficult. In John 16:33 Jesus reminds us that in the world we will experience trouble. There will be tribulation, and we are not merely to endure it but to "be of good cheer" for He has overcome the world.