Guest Article: 'Choose Joy'

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When given news as shocking and devastating as I found mine, it’s difficult to know where to turn.

But I knew that the only source of stability and certainty in the middle of that storm would be found in looking to God. So I decided to approach the horrendous news I’d been given with a phrase I’ve been trying to embrace over the past months:

Choose Joy.

The past 15 months have been one long, continuous journey of refinement. For myself as a person and also in understanding my faith.

Life has been a lot of things recently, but consistently, it’s been tough. In the unknown and uncertainty, I’ve repeatedly returned to the phrase: Choose Joy.

For the best part of a year, I had been having treatment for cancer that was found in my face in December 2017.

I had nine gruelling courses of chemotherapy, was flown out to Florida to have specialist Proton Beam Therapy in the spring of 2018 and ended the year with major surgery to remove the remaining tumour.

At the start of February, I was told my scans were clear and my life could finally commence again.

Three weeks later, I was told that the cancer had regrown in my lungs. There are now two tumours in my left lung that are treatable but no longer curable.

After riding the incredible high of being told I was free of cancer, I was then told I had decisions to make regarding the quality of my remaining life.

I have 6-12 months left to live if I choose to have the treatment offered.

Through this time, I’ve found that happiness and joy are very different.

Happiness is circumstantial; an emotional reaction to situations you find yourself in and a response to what you enjoy.

Joy is something your soul experiences and something your body responds to through knowing an inner fulfilment and being satisfied in that knowledge.

Joy is certainty of the future and contentment in my ultimate destination. It’s the understanding that above all else, God is consistently faithful and abundantly loving. It’s the fundamental knowledge that Jesus has gone before me and defeated death through His resurrection. He knows my darkest fears and gives me the hope of eternal life in His new Kingdom.

I am certain I’ll meet Jesus face to face in heaven; not an ethereal place made from wispy clouds, but a real, physical place, as real as planet Earth, where God resides and where we will eternally live in peace.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
— Revelation 21:4

Because it was never meant to be about this life; we’re all simply passing through, and my circumstances are just a ‘blip’ on the road to eternity.

Our lives are but a vapour, a thin mist that appears momentarily and then vanishes away.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
— James 4:14

Whilst life throws uncertainty in front of me each day, by choosing joy, I’m choosing to acknowledge that when I’m weak in my mind and body, God is strong in my spirit.

The Joy of the Lord is the knowledge that we’ve been accepted by God, that we live in total assurance of an eternal, intimate relationship with Him.

The same joy was carried by Jesus on the cross, and the same knowledge that He was going to return to His Father in heaven can be embodied by us too.

The Holy Spirit enables us to recognise all that feeds our soul; pointing us to God. He shows us that God isn’t the author of the brokenness in this world, but the One who gives us the strength and guidance to navigate through it.

So when we choose joy, we can’t help but worship God, in an overwhelming outpouring of praise.

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
— Psalm 39:4-5

Choose Joy.

It is a freedom which will transform your life.

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