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  • Kerry Teravskis

Count it.  Work it.  Repeat it.

I don’t know about you, but choosing joy is not something I do naturally. I would rather gripe, complain and grumble. It seems so much easier to go down that path. I mean, make lemonade out of lemons? That takes work! When things are hard, the last thing I want to do is work. I want to take the road MOST traveled. The one with the least resistance. And yet, I read my Bible and it says just the opposite. Count it all joy (James 1:3). I am supposed to count it all joy??? You mean really count? Weigh it and measure it and then exclaim – JOY. Yes, I would say that is what James was inspired to write. What an incredible way to work through an experience. It makes one pause, and take stock. Reminds me of the song – Count Your Blessings. When you count your blessings, you really don’t have time for anything else. Whatever was the problem before seems to melt away.

But back to joy. What is joy really? Is it rainbows, butterflies and lollipops? I don’t think so. The word joy in Greek is khara. It is joy, gladness, the opposite of sorrow, springing from one’s faith, joy wrought by the Holy Spirit, to attain to blessedness at the right hand of God in heaven, the blessedness which the Lord enjoys. That is quite a list. Such a rich meaning for such a little word. A deep emotion that one can experience in Jesus. But I believe it is a muscle that we have to work. And work it hard. Not just a rep here and there, but a daily workout regime, with intention and purpose. That’s what I would say James 1:3 is saying. Count it. Work it. Repeat it.

Be Joyful Always

1 Thessalonians 5:16

We have heard many, many sermons on this text. And some good ones too. So how do you BE joyful always? When you are in pain, all-the-time pain, miserable, lonely and frustrated that the road stretched out before you is long? I am no expert. And I do not have all the answers. Maybe not even one. But, I know that God has helped me to weather through some tough times and I was able to choose joy when all I wanted to do was scream “I can’t take this anymore!!!” I have said many times that my life is full of no’s. No gluten. No dairy. No meat. No corn. No walking for more than 5 minutes. No bike riding. No grocery shopping. No. No. No. So, how do I counteract this? I believe God has given me some ideas and ways to do just that. By saying yes to things. Yes to gluten-free food. Yummy delicious "gf" food. Gourmet quality that we make here at home. No meat? No problem. Bring on the fish! No bike riding? How about kayaking!

The way we do it is pretty ingenious – I get in my kayak and I am bungee corded to one of the guys who is in front of me. Away we go. Great for me, a little more challenging for the guys! Not able to walk far? Go slow, take stops. Go to Disneyland and rent a wheelchair. I know. I just did it in late January. Hard? You bet. But I wanted to have a big YES in my life. So I got over the emotional trauma and made the most of it. I don’t know if the people are fully recovered from their feet being ran over (my son Andrew was a crazy driver)! I wanted to choose joy in my life. And that trip was so much fun. 3 days in Disneyland. We still talk about it.

I needed a yes and my family needed one too. We took a 5400 mile trip last summer. It was another yes. I loaded up our truck with a huge heating pad, I would lay down in our trailer when we stopped and I would rest as much as possible. As I write this, my husband and I are going to Hawaii in 2 days. Another opportunity to choose joy – wheelchair in the airport, no long walks, no strolling on the beach at sunset. No surfing (OK, I just did it once and I never really stood up). But. I get to go to Hawaii. Be on the beach. In Waikiki. Gorgeous sunsets. Catamaran ride at sunset. Drive around the island. Eat shaved ice. Spend quiet time alone with God on the beach. Dinner out with my husband.

A big YES in my book!

So, to put it all together. As we are on this journey, this path that God has called us to (!!!) and He has marked out for us (!!!) we need to choose joy. Not because we have to but because we want to. You see, every time we choose joy in the midst of difficult circumstances our enemy is knocked down. And God receives the glory. It is our main mission. To give God glory. When I choose joy, I choose God. I choose life. I choose where my eyes focus. On God. On Jesus. And He is worth it all!

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