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I choose the gift of joy!

A devotion for Advent

This devotion appears in the 2022 Buckner Advent Guide, containing devotions and family activities to help you celebrate the Advent season. Get your free digital copy of the Advent Guide delivered instantly to your email today.

“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

Growing up in East Texas, we would often sing joyful songs in Sunday school and vacation Bible school. Many of these songs have remained with me for several decades. Most of the songs focused on joy and happiness.

One such song was: “I got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart!” Another was: “This Joy that I have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.” And who can forget, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”

As I grew older, however, I discovered there was a difference between joy and happiness. A big discovery for me was that life was not always full of happiness.

Happiness, in many situations, is a state of mind. Truth be told, sometimes our circumstances can be challenging, and can cause us to be happy or sad. These past two years were challenging and for the most part, some of us were not happy about our “new normal” situations. Illness and even death of loved ones. Many, including myself, experiencing COVID-19 firsthand, economic crisis and daily uncertainties. Oh, but when I think about the gift of JOY!

So what is joy? It is a state of the heart, a long-lasting state of being, it is a promise from God, a gift from God, but it is a choice. 

God gives us joy when we choose to receive his son as our personal Savior, which guarantees us salvation. So, we know we will have joy in heaven, but we can also have joy here on Earth. 

When we have made the choice to accept our free gift from God (Jesus), we choose to have peace and joy in our daily lives, even in the midst of challenging times. 

We are not promised sunshine every day, and we don’t have to smile all the time (although it helps), but we are promised salvation and eternal life, which gives us great JOY, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Even when our world appears to crumble around us, we can choose to be joyful. This JOY is a gift we can choose to accept and pursue no matter where we are in life and no matter our situations. But it’s our choice. I chose the gift of JOY; therefore, I choose to have joy daily!

Written by Annie Flemon, foster care home developer and master trainer with Buckner Children and Family Services in Beaumont, Texas. She serves as an elementary Sunday school teacher, children’s ministry director and praise and worship leader at Borden Chapel Baptist Church.

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