Selecting a word or theme for the year – that’s never been my thing. In the past I haven’t felt the urge or conviction to be tied to any one thing for 365 days.
Until now. Like a 2×4 over the head, I felt compelled to focus on one big idea as 2016 rolled around. And not just on any word or concept, it was clear that JOY was needed in my heart and mind.
2015 proved a difficult time for my family, and while I’d love to say that choosing joy means that this coming year is going to be all roses and smooth sailing, with happiness just shooting out of every area of my life, that’s not what joy is about. In fact, joy has nothing to do with what’s going on around me.
In my friend Elisa Morgan’s book Naked Fruit, she writes, “joy is something deep that celebrates God’s character despite the circumstances.” She goes on, “joy is the ability to hold up because we know we are being held up … a confidence in God no matter what happens.”
Joy relies on a God bigger than my circumstances.
And while I’d love to have a year of ease and happiness (boy, would I), that’s not what I am focusing on while I pursue joy.
In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells the people to stop grieving, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” While the Lord understands our grief and this passage should not be taken to mean never grieve (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). This is a great reminder that our grief should not keep us from the joy that comes from Christ and in that joy we find strength to face any circumstance.
Joy is an assurance in the Lord that sustains us through whatever life brings.
In other words, we are called to have joy in any circumstance and it’s through that joy that comes only from the Lord that we’ll find the strength to face the challenge.
Joy hasn’t been my natural response lately but in 2016 I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to focus on the God of this universe who holds me close through the journey. Won’t you join me?
Do you choose a word or theme to focus each year on? If so, what are you focusing on in 2016?