Choose Joy

By Becky Cook

Tucked away in a Christmas bag from my mom this year was this picture. I almost missed it. Days after Christmas I found it, just a sliver of paper down in some Christmas tinsel. When I looked at it I was overcome with laughter. I could not help but understand the tears of these children and yet at the same time also feel the laughter that was coming from those behind the camera. God just spoke to me through this picture. In the midst of ending 2016 and ushering in the new, fresh year of 2017… we have got to choose JOY.
I hate taking pictures. I don’t want to see what I really look like on the outside. We expect “picture perfect” lives. We don’t want people to see the real US. We can throw fits, cry our eyes out and live in defeat of what life hands us. These kids are miserable. Probably uncomfortable and if one cries its’ a lot easier for everyone to cry. Behind the camera is someone just wanting to capture the sweet little faces of JOY. But the smiles are covered with tears.
Life is hard We think we will be happier if we just had what everyone else has.┬áThe perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect family, the perfect weight, the perfect health, and on and on. Our journeys don’t work like that.

As the new year rolls in, I am claiming to choose JOY this year.

I may not like the twists in my journey, I may not understand the ups and downs it will bring, I may be overwhelmed with so much JOY I don’t know how to handle it, but I am confident that “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it”…. I serve a God who has more for me than I can think or even imagine, so I will trust and choose JOY. He knows the plans and His picture of my life will be perfect.
We live in a world that needs salvation, grace, peace, love and most of all JOY. Let’s be the walking examples of this. It’s ok to cry… JOY comes in the morning. These kids will look back one day at this picture and what a story it will tell. It will bring laughter to their lives and so much more meaning to the ones on the other side of the camera. Let the struggles of 2016 be a reminder of God’s presence to walk with us each day and never forsake us, even when we might have lost faith.
Let the new year of 2017 be ushered in with “unspeakable JOY” and a stronger faith in the promises given to us from a GOOD GOOD Father….