“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Last year God gave me my word for 2017 very early, I believe it was in May. However, I couldn’t tell at first if He was giving me the word FUN or JOY. I had plenty of time before 2017 rolled around, so I waited until God confirmed it was in fact, JOY, not fun.
At the time, I wondered why the difference. Fun sounded “fun” and we’d been encouraged by someone a few years ago that God was bringing “fun” back to our family, so fun just seemed logical.
However, I’ve learned a lot about joy and fun in the past few months and now I think I realize why God chose JOY instead. In my opinion, fun is more of an experience whereas JOY is a lifestyle. JOY is chosen and becomes a part of your character whereas fun is captured for a moment, enjoyed and then needs to be caught again.
In January, when I was still trying to figure out what it meant to have JOY as my word for the year, God gave me a choice: I didn’t necessarily feel as though He was disciplining me, but instead showing me two different paths I could choose. However, I still needed to make a choice. I could choose a path to complain when things worked out differently than I wanted or I could choose to see His hand working and embrace a JOYful lifestyle instead. Again, it was a choice. The JOYful life led to blessings, more than I could imagine, and the complaining lifestyle led to… well, plastic ducks. Yes, you heard me right, plastic ducks. (I think God used that analogy because we’d already talked last year about whether or not I wanted the diamond necklace of submitting to His will or the plastic beads of holding tightly to my own.)
Fast forward to March of this year and God invited me to participate in Lent. While I knew in my heart He wasn’t asking me to give up any specific foods, He did invite me to use this 40 days to create a new habit in my life… one where complaining isn’t welcome. I accepted His invitation and I have to say – knowing that I’m giving this up to God makes a huge difference in how I approach situations in my life.
It obviously affects the immediate. Instead of complaining and bringing everyone else down, I try and see the circumstance through a Heavenly perspective. What is the bigger purpose of this particular situation… and what lesson does God want me to get out of it? But, I have started to discover an extra blessing. Not complaining brings hope. Because if I believe that whatever situation I’m facing has a Heavenly purpose, a purpose bigger than inconveniencing me, causing me pain, etc., then I can truly believe that God is for me. He wants the best for my life and my family more than I do. While the best doesn’t always come right away, hope is built because the best will eventually come if I stay focused on His goals, His will, His desires. When I’m hopeful, that eventually creates inside of me a JOYful attitude. And that, I believe, is why God wanted my word to be JOY this year instead of just fun.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017