Life is filled with choices. Each day we wake up and make dozens of choices, almost instinctively. We choose what to wear, what to have for breakfast, what to say to those we see in our homes, schools or offices. However, while we experience the benefits of making these choices, there are other factors that unfold in our day that remind us of how little choice we may actually have. There’s a traffic jam on the way to work. We have to attend certain classes or meetings that we’d prefer to avoid. We get a phone call that interrupts our plans and now we have to alter the day in a way that we wouldn’t normally choose. The end result is a mixture of experiences that remind us that having the power to choose is a blessing. All that said, perhaps the greatest discovery we can make on this journey is the realization that whether things are within our control or beyond them, the attitude with which we travel always remains our most precious choice. We can choose to be frustrated, upset and discouraged or we can choose to be content, grateful and joyful. The choice of attitude and perspective is always our own.
So, what will you choose this advent season? What perspective and posture will you embrace? Yesterday we revisited the important reminder that as Christ-followers we can and should choose joy. Joy is such a powerful thing. It not only lifts our spirits but it lifts the spirits of others. It’s contagious and infectious and should be shared. I don’t believe that joy is forced smiles and pretending that everything is ok. I think joy is about having perspective. There’s no question that life is filled with its share of trials and hardships. And even when life isn’t filled with these hardships there remains a temptation to look at the lives of others and wish ours was something different. There’s always more we wish we could have or things we wish would change. So be it hardship or discontentment, all of a sudden joy becomes very elusive. The joy we embrace, however, helps us see beyond the hardship and beyond the discontent. Joy provides a perspective that is anchored in the hope of Christ. The advent season takes us back to the ultimate promise of Jesus’ birth that had the angels declaring, “Joy to the World … the Lord has come!” Perhaps this is the greatest insight as to how joy is possible regardless of our circumstance.
The season of advent is a tremendous reminder of God’s love for you and for me. It’s a reminder of God’s love for the world. It’s a reminder that God didn’t neglect the hardships of life, He stepped into them Himself through the person of Christ. And in so doing, He revealed, not only a hope for a day when those hardships will cease, but an undeniable message that His love for us never fails. That love has come in the innocence of the manger, was submitted to the brutality of the cross, and triumphed over the grave. It is in this love that we find all we need to be joyful. In this season of advent, we are reminded that each and every day we can choose joy because God, our Father, chose us. So, as we enter into this advent season, let us be a people who continue to choose joy! - Jerimiah Smith