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Choose Joy

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When Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough was first issued, it was targeted toward women – the new edition is for everyone!


When I wrote Choose Joy, I revealed that I had a close family member who was living with a mental illness. I spoke about the challenge of choosing joy in the face of a struggle that was very dark and scary at times—both for my loved one and for me. As you may know, our “struggle” became catastrophic loss when our twenty-seven-year-old son, Matthew, took his life in April of 2013 after two decades of intense, painful—even torturous—mental and emotional suffering. The news of his suicide seemed to fill the airwaves for a short period of time, and we were thrust into the public spotlight in ways we had always hoped to avoid.


The detailed circumstances of his death are private, but what I am comfortable telling you is that on the morning of April 5, 2013, I had very good reasons to believe Matthew had taken his life, although it wouldn’t be confirmed until later that day. The night before I did not sleep, I was so full of anxiety and grief because I was pretty sure he had died. So when I got dressed that morning, I deliberately reached into my jewelry drawer and selected a necklace that said Choose Joy. I was sick to my stomach, shaking from head to toe, and terrified that what I had dreaded had actually happened. But I put that necklace on because, somewhere in the dim recesses of my frozen mind, I was certain the only thing that would allow me to survive the loss of my son was what I knew and believed about God… and joy. That morning I possessed these three things: the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be okay, and the determined choice to give my praise to God—even on April 5, 2013.


These ensuing months of shattering grief and loss have severely tested those three convictions, and the opportunities to choose joy—or not—have been endless. I really believe that God allowed me to write Choose Joy before Matthew died to prepare me for what was ahead, so that when he died, I would have the tools I desperately needed to survive and even thrive during one of my life’s most tragic losses.


Most of you will not face anything as devastating as the loss of a child due to suicide, but every single day you will face something that threatens your attempts to live with joy. Health problems, financial worries, marriage issues, loneliness, unresolved relational conflicts, anxiety about our nation or our world, stress over how your kids are turning out—the devil is at work nonstop to interfere with or interrupt your plans and dreams. Your primary task in life is to get to know God intimately and to send your spiritual roots deep into the soil of his love; to develop convictions and certainties about him that will become the source of your strength when happiness isn’t enough.


I pray that Choose Joy will inspire you to know God better, to trust him more, and to become convinced that you too can choose joy!


Resources available at: www.KayWarren.com/ChooseJoy #ChooseJoy


Posted by Kay Warren with 1 Comments
in Hope

The Gift of Peace

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“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (TNIV)


I spend time on Twitter and Facebook, and I notice that people frequently post that they plan to take a “social media break.”


Why? Generally, the reason people give is that they feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of news about what is happening around the world. The level of violence, conflict, chaos, pain, suffering, and constant tragedy can take an enormous toll on people’s hearts and minds.


In addition to the world’s problems, many also carry the constant pressure of worry and anxiety about kids, marriage, health, and even financial responsibilities. The weight of personal problems can feel too heavy to carry.


In the middle of all that is wrong in the world and upside down in our daily lives, perhaps the reassurance we all need to hear is contained in the angels’ declaration to the shepherds at Christmas many years ago: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14 NIV).


God saw our distress and spiritual alienation and sent Jesus to save us from our sin and separation. Through Jesus, we can be at peace with God right now.


Jesus also promised to send the Comforter—the Holy Spirit—to be in us and with us at all times. In John 14:26-27, Jesus told his disciples, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV).


The peace Jesus said the Holy Spirit would bring will hold you when the bottom falls out, when the wheels come off the bus, and when you feel like you cannot survive another moment. God’s peace will sustain you. It is a peace that is unshakable.


Beyond the peace we can experience with God, and the peace he gives us to face a tumultuous world today, God also promises that when Jesus returns to earth he will bring complete and total peace to the whole world. Knowing God is going to bring peace on earth someday gives us incredible reasons to be hopeful about the future! The day is coming when Jesus will return, and he will bring peace on earth that will last forever. Oh, what an amazing day that will be!


“For unto us a child is born, and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And he will becalled Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (TNIV)

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