I heard about Layla from The Lettered Cottage issuing a challenge to choose a word to be the theme for your upcoming year.
I chose the word "Joy." I've always loved the word joy; in fact, I named my first baby girl's middle name as Joy. Joy also means delight, and we were delighted to have her in our lives.
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness depends on the circumstances, joy is assurance that all will work out despite the circumstances.
"Another way we might put it is that we have happiness BECAUSE of our situation, we have joy IN SPITE OF our situation.
Joy comes as a result of a complete trust in the love of God and a deep desire for the will of God to be done in the world, no matter what the cost might be to ourselves." [Anne Robertson]
"Happiness is an emotion and temporary; joy is an attitude of the heart." [Brian Cromer]
Quoted by Sean White: "a good analogy for happiness and joy. It goes like this: Happiness is like a thermometer that changes based the environment around it. Joy is a thermostat that we can learn to set and will effect the enviroment around it."
The reason I picked joy as my word for 2012 was because of lessons learned in 2011. I learned that even though a flood may come, God will work everything out for the better. We were flooded in May 2011. We had to rebuild our home, camping out in my aunt's home in the meantime. In 3 months time, with a lot of help from God and friends, we moved back home to something nicer and newer than what we had. Best of all, we were totally debt-free!
Of course, we didn't know that at the time. On May 1st, 2011, at 2 a.m. in the morning, when we had to wade through the water and climb over a levee of sand bags, each of us holding a laundry basket with what earthly possessions we could scrabble together, it sure didn't feel like it would all turn out for good.
God taught us that we can trust Him. He does care. You can ask and it will be given to you.
However, the lessons didn't stop there. We've also had to deal with other situations, such as car wrecks that seemed total losses but became testimonies of God's goodness, and items that needed costly repairs but instead were fixed for few dollars. It just seemed like we were in a season of blessing. God just took care of our every need.
Of course, not every test and trial in 2011 was about physical needs. Some were spiritual, some struggles involved people. The answers to every problem have not come in yet.
In all these things, I am learning not to worry. God has a plan. Sometimes it involves pain and loss, but in the end, it will be well. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for us, to give us an expected end.
I really do have a spirit of joy because I firmly believe I know who is in control, and now I know that I know that I know, I am loved and God really really cares about me. No, I might not get my way every time. He's not a genie that you can ask for wishes to be granted. But if you are truly living for Him and obeying His Word, when you are in trouble, you can ask for help.
You can rest easy knowing He has a plan. He's never caught off guard. He's never unsure what to do.
So in 2012, my goal is to always choose JOY!
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
and we are filled with joy.