There's a sign in my office that reads, "Find Joy in Every Journey." It is one of those signs that finds a place in your home or office and in your head. It follows me around everywhere. It is usually an encouraging and uplifting thought that carries me through the day. A subtle reminder that joy is not dependent on the circumstances of my everyday. Yesterday was not one of those days.
When the phrase popped into my head on my drive home yesterday, I was annoyed. The best response I could muster was to shake my head and roll my eyes. I tried to dismiss it, but the idea kept resurfacing in my head. I could not shake it.
What does it really mean to "find joy in every journey"? I know I should, but most of the time I find it almost impossible.
I find myself reading the Psalms almost daily and I see that they were able to do it. Chapter after chapter offers a prayer that begins in difficulty but almost always ends in praise. I read the words, but they don't take up residence in my heart. I read that "those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" (Psalm 34:10), but I doubt it. How do I move from knowing it in my head to experiencing it in my heart and life?
As I wrestled with this idea of "joy" yesterday, a new thought crossed my mind. What if joy is not so much something we "find," but something for which we must "fight"? Joy is not missing when life seems difficult, we just have to fight for it during those times. I think that is what Nehemiah meant when he said, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Things will inevitably get difficult and joy will be hard to see, but fight for it! It is within you...and it gives you strength no matter your circumstances.
To fight for joy is to rehearse what we see in the Word over and over again. What we see is that God has a history of helping his people. The psalmist knew it. James knew it when he told us to "consider it pure joy" when we encounter difficulty (1:2). And we know it, too...we just have to "fight" for it like they did.
The sign in my office should read "Fight for Joy in Every Journey". Even thought it doesn't, I think I leave it hanging in my office. It will serve as a subtle reminder to me to fight for joy in my life, always rehearsing in my head God's history of helping his people.. And that is a cause for joy.