How far into the new year are we allowed to go before it becomes socially unacceptable to say Happy New Year? Some believe that after the 1st of January it’s already weird to say Happy New Year whereas there are some Nigerian aunties and uncles who beg to differ and will still greet you with a Happy New Year in April. This is the first time I am formally addressing my blog readers so no matter how deep into the year we are, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!
The first few days and weeks of this year have been rather reflective for me and I’m sure for many of you reading it has been the same: You reflect on the past year and ponder on what the year ahead holds. Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian once said “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” I love this quote because it is only when you reflect on the past that you have an appreciation of what has happened and you gain the strength to face tomorrow. The year 2021, looked different for everyone, I can speak for myself and say that it was not all smiles and laughter. Often my tears, frustration, and pain were masked behind a simple yet infectious smile. Some might say that’s being fake but I tell you there are times when you have to faith it till you make it. I will speak more about this on my blog and podcast this year. At the start of last year, I shared a blog post entitled “Roses are red, God is on my side, in 2021 I wanna be…”; under the shadow of God’s wings. So throughout the year, my main goal was to reside under God’s wings; this meant trusting God wholeheartedly. I have learned that when you reside under the shadow of God’s wings as we are instructed in Psalms 91, you will certainly have JOY in chaos.
Joy is in an unexplainable emotion, as I have previously stated in a previous blog post. Joy is superior and different from happiness. Happiness is dependent on what is happening, but Joy is dependent on God. Since God never changes, Joy is always in abundance. What does this look like? Having Joy means that your world may appear to be crumbling but you wake up every morning with peace that passeth all understanding. It means knowing that God will supply all your needs according to His riches even when your bank account is in red or the payment is declined. It means knowing that God is a problem solver even when your situation seems impossible. It means knowing that God is a way maker even when it seems like you have run out of options. It means knowing God is the light in the darkness even when all that is around you seems dire, dark, and hopeless. It means knowing God is a promise keeper even when people say no to your requests or doors get shut in your face.
It means knowing God will you give you joy amid chaos.
I am sure this is not the first time you are hearing the phrase “Choose Joy”, it is easy to choose joy when life is going your way, things are working out as ‘you’ planned. However, when the table turns and the clouds turn dark and it seems like you are running up an escalator going down it’s harder to obey the command to choose joy. When God inspired Paul’s writings to include this command He knew the future won’t always have clear sunny skies and there will be trying moments, where we want to throw in the towel yet the command, remains unchanged – choose Joy in Chaos.
The ability to choose Joy in chaos can be illustrated and understood by nature, let me explain. In the natural world, chaos looks like natural disasters: avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, dust storms, floods, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, blizzards, heatwave, droughts, thunderstorms, tornadoes, firestorms, wildfires – these disasters are notoriously known for their impact on everything in their path. In particular, we hear about houses and trees being uprooted thus causing more damage. Taking myself back to geography class I recall that there are a variety of measures put in place for areas at risk of these natural disasters to minimise the extent of chaos caused. For example, making sure the house sits above flood level protects it from flooding; bolting the house to the foundation helps it withstand earthquake tremors; storm shutters protect glass windows from shattering, and so on…
Likewise in our lives, we also have situations that threaten to ruin, shake and uproot all that we are familiar with. Just like the houses have reinforcement against natural disasters we can also have that assurance by having a firm foundation. That’s how you’ll make it when the wind is blowing and threatening to knock you out.
The ability to choose Joy in chaotic moments is based on the foundation we lay. In the bible, there is an account about a metaphorical natural disaster: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders which can be found in Matthew 7:24-27. This parable summarises that although the houses looked the same on the outside their foundations (sand or rock) differentiated them. The real foundation of our lives is usually hidden, the storms we encounter reveal the foundations we have. In this upcoming year, the storms of our lives will test our foundations, so we all must lay firm foundations that will keep us grounded.
How do we lay firm foundations?
The surest foundation is The Word of God, in which we are taught to trust solely in Jesus Christ. We are also reminded in John 1:1 that Jesus is the living Word of God. Jesus is the rock that holds us together when storms threaten to uproot and displace us. Do not base your foundation or faith on feelings, experiences, or in people – it must be based on Jesus Christ. If a person’s foundation is built on a miracle God demonstrated in the past, when it seems like God is now silent and has not answered their house will be devastated if that was their only foundation. However, if you know it is Jesus that holds your life together and you develop that solid relationship with him you will always have the ability to choose joy in the choas.
Maverick City Music released a song last year entitled “Firm Foundation” – you must check it out if you haven’t done so yet. Allow me to use the lyrics to make a declaration to you:
I do hope you treasure the words of this song and take steps today to build a firm foundation that will sustain and uphold you through this year.