One day, a friend of mine asked, “Gina, why are you always smiling?”
I simply replied, “Jesus.”
All of my life, people have always asked me the same question. I never knew that there was a perpetual grin plastered on my face until I noticed the theme about my smile. Apparently, not many people are giving away smiles. It’s always been something that I naturally do. My countenance is not forced, contrived, or fake. Honestly, I’m not even aware of it until it’s mentioned. It has inspired nicknames such as Smiley & Sunshine, which the Holy Spirit has so sweetly spoken through others.
Then one day, the Lord took it a step further.
A dear friend declared something powerful over me. She said that she will call me Joy…unspeakable Joy. That same week, another close friend gave me two verses.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
“In your presence there is fullness of joy.” – Psalm 16:11
He didn’t just give me a nickname…He renamed me. That solidified my stance in this life. Sometimes people think that because you constantly smile that you haven’t experienced the trials of life. So not true. I have walked through my share of deep valleys. But I choose joy. He calls us to choose joy…and it’s not hard to. Some call it having a glass half full mentality, but the way I view it, my cup overfloweth. He pours out, and it spills over the brim.
This doesn’t mean that I never have my days where I shed tears, feel pain or lament. Ask my husband or closest friends…I can whine with the best of them. I just don’t call attention to pain or trials that I may experience. Those closest to me are witnesses to those moments, but I refuse to give glory to anything other than God. When you make a spectacle of your suffering, it pulls the focus of God.
Please understand that God doesn’t want you to put up a front. He wants us to be honest with him. David was very forthright and honest in his sufferings through Psalms. But He always turned it into praise. Worshiping God in the midst of a trial is the most powerful thing you can do. Thank Him for the victory while you’re walking through it. Acknowledge Him by your side when you are in the fire. Refuse the temptation to complain, grumble or rebuke God for not stopping it.
True joy never fades or withers during trials. It raises its hands in the face of the battle and reminds itself that God reigns.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” – 1 Peter 3:15
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2
“Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” – Psalm 21:6
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.” – Psalm 43:5