Forthright Magazine

Choose Joy

Three hours in the garden flew by as swiftly as the ruby-throated hummingbird, annoyed that I had just weeded out a lot of the cypress vine that he so loved. Note to self: I must put up the hummingbird feeder to make up for lessening his food source in favor of a neater garden.

The mild breezes caressing my face as I cleared out the weeds spoke peace and joy into my heart, even if the angry bird did not. Gone for this week was the oppressive heat of summer, when opening the back door was akin to opening the oven. 

It felt luxurious after the busy months of July and August to have a few days to do garden chores. Yes; I actually enjoy the chores themselves, but enjoy it so much more when it’s done! I felt a twinge of guilt that I could be doing something more productive, maybe propagating roses for selling. The reality is that I can’t sell as much from a messy garden, but it drove home the point that we often are motivated away from things that are actually quite good.

Take the emotion of joy, for instance. I was in my happy place, my bliss, turning a weedy patch into what it used to be; a place of beauty. As I worked, I contemplated this joy that I was experiencing, free from the headaches that had been plaguing me for so long and having a few days to just “be.” That twinge of guilt — unearned as it was — had even bled over into this joyful feeling I had.

Is it right to feel happy and joyful when the world is a mess? Wildfires in one place and floods in another? Friends who are sick and far away? 


I am starting to believe it is a requirement that we dare not follow because it’s … well … pleasant! Fun! Joyful!! While we rightly take time to decry sin in all its forms and sneaky ways, we have been given a great gift by our Lord who has saved us from sin. 

Joy. Continual joy. Joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether watching the birds and butterflies on a quiet patio or being hounded from place to place because we won’t stop teaching the truth.  

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52, NASB). 

It is significant that this placid passage closely follows a rather tumultuous persecution of Paul and Barnabas by their own Jewish brethren. Later, Paul and Silas will be found singing hymns while they’re in prison with their feet in stocks. 

As one of the fruits of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22, we want to partake and enjoy this gift. It will make the sweet moments sweeter, and our gratitude more full. It will make the hard times more bearable, in knowing that they are all temporary until we reach the heavenly home where our joy is made completely full.

“So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:10-12).



Christine Berglund
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