Psalm 16:11

“…in your presence is fullness of joy.”

The other night, I crashed!

Feeling dizzy, nauseous and unable to swallow, I ended up on the bathroom floor.  Oh, how I hate the bathroom floor!

Patiently, I waited for my body to recover so that I could crawl to my bed.

Then something amusing happened.  At different times, my children would casually stroll into my room and see me lying on the floor.  After their initial surprise, they would each compose themselves and gently ask if I was ok.

I assured each of them I was fine and only resting.

“Do you need to go to the hospital?” they would ask.

I told them I didn’t know.

“Can I get you anything?”  they would ask.

Usually the answer was “no”.  However, when my youngest happened to ask, I felt the need to take my blood pressure.  I politely asked him to bring my blood pressure monitor to me.

He trotted to the drawer where it is kept and calmly brought it to me.  Because he was so composed, I found the situation entertaining.  Isn’t it interesting how we can adjust and cope with the strangest of situations?

Physically, I am struggling right now and must rest.  In the past, I loathed times when my body required extended rest.  I considered my home a prison where I served a life sentence of chronic illness.

How foolish!  I have been given a gift, an opportunity.  Requiring rest also means I have vast amounts of time that I can spend with the Lord.  What a blessing!

In James 1:2-3 it says to count it all joy when we have trials.  Embracing our trials is not a suggestion.  It is a mandate.  So, how can we be joyful in our trials?  Do I simply chose to be joyful?  People talk about “choosing to be happy”.

Is joy a choice?

Since Philippians is called “the joy letter”, I decided to look there.  Throughout the book I circled the words “joy” and “rejoice” every time I read them.  Meditating on verses about joy was helpful but it didn’t answer all my questions.

The other day, I came across Psalm 16 in my daily reading and in a separate devotional.   There were 3 verses that stood out.

Psalm 16: 5 (ESV)  “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.”

Psalm 16:8 (ESV)  “I have set the Lord always before me.”

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) “…in your presence is fullness of joy.”

I appreciate how the ESV Bible says in verse 5 that the Lord is my chosen portion.  I must choose what the Lord has assigned for me whether trials or pleasure.

I am inclined to avoid pain. But without pain how can I know pleasure?

People universally understand the importance of physical pain.  As an initial indicator of something awry in our body, we respect it!

Do I have the same respect for pain I experience in life’s trials?  Or do I have disdain?  Will I choose pain over pleasure if that’s what the Lord is asking of me?

I must remind myself that all pain has a purpose!

In verse 8 David says that he has always set the Lord before himself.  Other versions (NAS) say, “I have set the Lord continually before me.”

Am I continually putting the Lord before myself?

Admittedly, I am a selfish person.  I worry about stuff.  Selfish.  I stress over junk.  Selfish.    I place my expectations on others.  Selfish.   The sad fact is, I continually put myself before God!

Here’s the thing, God is a rescuer.  He wants to rescue me out of my selfishness.  He wants me to embrace my trials.  He wants me to experience true joy.  But, again, I ask how?

Verse 11 sums it up by saying that in His presence is fullness of joy.  Joy is found in God’s presence.  I won’t find it outside of God.  I can’t simply choose it.

I must be in God’s presence to experience true fullness of joy!

Because there are a multitude of things that bring temporary satisfaction, we are easily distracted from that which brings true fulfillment.

Back to the original question, is joy a choice?  I believe the answer is threefold.

  1. I must choose to accept what the Lord has given me even to the extent of embracing trials.
  2. I must continually put the Lord before me instead of putting myself before the Lord.
  3. I must be in His presence because apart from Him there is no joy.

How about you…do you believe joy is a choice?