I enquired about 10 days ago what the topic would be for last week, to make sure my intended theme didn’t overlap. My theme was joy, so we were OK.

What is he doing talking about joy at this time? What have we got to be happy about just now?
You may well ask! Well let's see.
My thoughts came initially from James 1 v 2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

and Psalm 30 v 5

5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I have to admit that I didn't actually do anything else until I read last Sundays exhortation. I then listened to some music, putting it on a random shuffle setting. The first song was "Smile" and the second was "Joy", yes really!

For me they were a great reminder to hold on to God's promises through thick and thin and it's got to be good to be able to express happiness in the middle of a struggle.
A key line from one of the songs is " there's always a reason to always choose joy" Joy can be found in the midst of everything we go through and now more than ever we must put our trust in the Lord.

Psalm 28 v 7

7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

At this time when we may well be in isolation or lockdown, we may be off work worrying about when we will get another wage or on the opposite side we may be working on the front line so to speak with a constant fear of contracting the virus. How we respond in these difficult circumstances is actually our choice, we can wither away in fear and doubt or we can go confidently into this unprecedented challenge knowing that when we hold on to the Lord Jesus and his promises, there is always a reason to smile. We still have so many blessings to count and when we smile we show that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

We may well feel we are in prison just now, remember Paul and Silas and remember one of our greatest witnesses is for us to live our lives with a positive attitude and a joyful heart. Something that shows those around us that they too can have the hope and joy of God's love.

God doesn't promise to spare us from pain, but we do need to trust in Him and the Lord Jesus and recognise that nothing compares to the greatness of knowing our Father and our Saviour.

So then in these difficult times we need to remember the joy we have in the Lord and smile, whether it's to ourselves, to someone 2 metres away from us or to someone at the other end of a video call, just smile.

When you think you can't
Get up and dance
There's a bigger plan
The storm only lasts for a while

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