I have a friend and mentor in Winston-Salem who’s mantra is — choose happy. And she lives by it, spreading cheerfulness everywhere she goes. With that cheer she spreads she also drops seeds of hope, blessing, encouragement and the Word. It’s as if her happiness immediately unlocks the people she encounters, helps them drop their facade of shadows, and gives her a clear window to usher in the Spirit.
Choose happy. Why happy? Isn’t being real more important? I’ve wondered the same thing. But when I meander to the front of the coffee line still pondering my sin from earlier that morning, hurt by another’s words, and I greet the barista with a nod, a tip, and a sigh of discontentment –that’s all the barista hears, my discontentment.
There is little we really have control over, but one thing we absolutely can control is our attitude.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4
Count it all joy — Choose happy. Sure, there’s a difference in the two words, but I think you get the gist. We get to decide how we receive the trials of various kinds — we can let them torment us into despair or we can embrace Jesus as He guides us through.
Embracing Jesus means believing in His words, trusting His provision, and hoping in His will.
Because trials of various kinds will come. They have come. For me, in the trials where I’ve embraced Jesus I’ve soared over their waves with surprising speed and courage. After my sophomore year I transferred colleges to an out-of-state college. That fall my family had a financial crises and by all accounts I should have returned home. But Jesus called me to embrace Him, trust Him with more than I could imagine — my family, my future, and my debt.
After my second year at the out-of-state college I could apply for in-state tuition, which would drastically reduce my fees and allow me to continue going to school there. But that was TWO years. I had to hold on, clinging to faith and His word saying that He would never leave me, nor forsake me –The Lord is my helper, what can man do to me? Two years tested and I daily chose Jesus. And honestly, those were two of the most infectiously cheerful years of my life.
Something about choosing Jesus instead of despair when the storm threatened to sink my boat filled me up with happy.
After the two years of faithfully stepping in Christ’s call to stay, I got a letter saying that I did not receive the in-state award. In-state tuition was hard to get, very few who applied did. But I stormed my way into the financial aid office to plead my case. It turned out that I didn’t need to say anything, there was one box left unchecked somewhere that should have been checked.
It’s not that being happy is the point. No, not at all. Choosing Jesus is the point. Being happy? That’s a wonderful byproduct, an inheritance that is OURS TO CHOOSE t o d a y . No to discontentment — No more ‘I wish I did that nice thing’. We get to choose Jesus and we get to choose happy.
There are probably lots of trials skirting up to you today, so I’m praying for you dear friend, that you can see Christ as the most viable solution and that your heart chooses happy.