choose joy

This guest post by author Pam Farrel is a giveaway! Read below to find out how to enter for a chance to win her new Bible Study, “Discovering Joy in Philippians.”

Growing up with an abusive father, I learned early to “choose joy” despite my circumstances. But, decades after I learned to be joyful, a storm hit my life that threatened to replace that sunshine with dark foreboding clouds of doubt.

Bill and I, who had been married 25 years with three almost-grown sons, were on a book media tour when the storm rolled in. Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to an ER where a doctor informed him he had high blood pressure. That news caught Bill’s attention. His dad had a stroke in his 40s that left him paralyzed, and Bill’s grandfather died of a stroke in his early 40s.

Soon, we realized God was asking Bill to resign from the lead pastor role he had served in for 15 years. This decision was difficult emotionally and financially. But that was just the beginning. Within a very short time, our youngest son Caleb was seriously injured in a football game and needed a blood transfusion to save his life. A week later, with Caleb just home from the hospital, our other two sons also experienced serious injuries. Then another wave hit. My younger brother had a heart attack and I was needed to help with his children. My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.

I learned 4 ways to choose joy

When friends asked how I was doing, I didn’t know how to answer. Then God took me back to what I had known as a girl. He brought to mind Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” “Rejoice” is a verb, an action. I could choose joy. Here are four simple ways I discovered:

  1. Look UP – Joy comes from God, so I began a “joy hunt” through His Word. I gathered an extensive list of verses on joy. I printed them, studied them, tried to memorize them, and posted them on sticky notes as art around my home. As I soaked in joy, I pondered the verses again and again, in order to hang on to joy. I prayed verses like: “The joy of the Lord is your strength”(Nehemiah 8:10) and “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11).
  2. Look BACK – I also began to retrace God’s faithfulness in my life. Now I keep a JOY JOURNAL, a scrapbook of sorts that records my praise requests and praises as God answers. I include photos of people and prayer requests. I use colorful pens and write Scriptures around the photos. I also leave space to record God’s answer!
  3. Look OUT – I learned I couldn’t face the tough times alone. I began to prayer walk and with friends. As we walked, we PRAYED scripture and we PRAISED God for His faithful character—and because we were exercising happy endorphins were also released! Praying verses of joy is like the lifesaver, tossed to rescue you when you feel life is drowning you with sorrow.
  4. Look AHEAD – My 70-year-old mentor taught me to hold on to joy by looking forward. This friend had overcome illness and created a path of hope after the death of her spouse by always planning something to look forward to. Now, I work to make sure my calendar includes things that will replenish me and things that will help to restore the hope and joy of others. (Keeping an “other-centered” life also lifts your spirits!)

I chose joy and you can too!

This life-stage squall raged for 3 years. However, in God’s hands, by “Choosing Joy” God transformed those roaring waves into the very power we needed to surf safely to shore.

You can enter this contest up to 3 times! 1. Leave a comment below about how you choose joy. 2. Share this post on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling us you shared. 3. Share this post on another social media platform like Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling us you shared. The winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, June 5th at 8pm.

Discovering Joy in PhilippiansDiscovering Joy in Philippians

Discovering Joy in Philippians is an interactive, 11-week journey through Philippians to help you build your joy! The Bible study is enhanced with verse-inspired artwork you can color! The multi-talented author team includes Pam Farrel, Jean E. Jones, and Karla Dornacher.

Pam FarrelPam Farrel is a relationship expert, international Bible teacher, and together with her husband, Bill, she is Co-Director of Love-Wise. She is also the author of 48 books including best-selling  Discovering Hope in the Psalms and Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience.  Connect with Pam at and on the Bill and Pam Farrel Facebook page.


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