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“Mom, you look sad.”

That was a statement that our youngest son, Hunter, had made to me a few times over a period of a couple weeks. There was a lot on my mind for sure, and some of that stuff was really weighing on me, but had no idea that it showed on my face. I thought I was hiding it well.

I was wrong.

While we don’t believe in shielding our kids from everything – our parenting style is one that is more determined to teach them how to handle conflict or worry or mistakes or anything else they might face – we never want to burden them with grown-up problems. It’s a tough balance, and the stuff I was carrying, the sadness Hunter saw on my face, definitely fell into that “don’t burden him” category.

Something had to change.

I’ve been walking with Jesus much longer now than I haven’t – 30 years – but as I took a good hard look at myself, I didn’t like what I was seeing. I shouldn’t have been walking around looking like my world was coming to an end, no matter the circumstances. All of this has prompted me to study “joy” in the Bible, because there is no doubt – when I think about joy, I always think of Jesus first. Jesus loved to laugh. He loved spending time with people. He went looking for the ones who had been rejected. He knew when to rest and when to work. And He did all of that knowing full well what was coming for him, but that didn’t steal his joy.

…​For the joy set before him He endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2b)

And you know what? That “joy set before him” was us. You. Me. All of us. We were the reason He died on a cross. He loves us so much that He readily accepted his fate. He willingly went through a hell we’ll never understand so that we could be free.
Free from sin. Free from worry. Free from fear. Free from all of those and more. So often our focus remains on the very things He died to free us from, when it should be on Him… when we should be praising Him for the miracle He’s done in our lives.
There really is no greater love, friends.

Jesus was able to choose joy no matter His circumstances.

Choosing joy is not easy. In fact, it can be really hard. But when we fix our eyes on Him; when we rest in His plan for us, the stuff of the world really does fade away. Big problems seem smaller. The hurt and rejection that once consumed you just doesn’t matter as much anymore. Before you know it, you’re laying all of that junk at His feet, trusting that He knows what to do with it.

Take a deep breath…

Don’t you feel better already?

As if that weren’t enough (and it is), the people God has placed in your life – the ones who love you and stick by you no matter what – your appreciation for them will grow deeper, knowing they are a gift given by Him to make life here better. They are the “extra” – the blessings that we don’t deserve but by His grace get to enjoy anyway.
We can choose joy because we know that this life here isn’t the end. All of this is temporary. Heaven is forever.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Take good care of the people He has given to walk beside you. Look for the good in everything (there is always something – I promise). If you do this, you just might find that choosing joy isn’t so hard after all.

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About the Author: Jaclyn Hatcher is a writer and curator of the blog Confessions Of A Misfit Minister’s Wife.