Christmas time—it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s easy to feel full of joy when we’re surrounded by the treasures of Christmas.    

But what do we do after the gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been devoured and the pretty red and green lights are taken down? How do we sustain the joy often felt at Christmas time into the mundane or even stressful or troubling parts of our year.    

First, joy is more than a feeling—it’s a choice.  

When Paul said “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” in Philippians 4:4, he was locked up in prison facing execution for a crime he was falsely accused of—not a circumstance where most of us would find it easy to be joyful.   

But Paul’s joy wasn’t rooted in his circumstances, it was rooted in who God is, a good father, and in His sovereignty and the promises He has made.

Paul knew what he was going through was a terrible situation, but he chose to look at his circumstances through the lense of his victory already made permanent by Jesus on the cross and his eternity, free of trials and full of joy in the presence of God.

This doesn’t mean we won’t—or even Paul didn’t—feel pain, sorrow, depression or sadness, or that we have to brush it away and go through life like a stoic robot.

Consider some of the Psalms. Throughout many of them, the authors write of intense feelings of pain, fear and other negative emotions. The psalmists are real with God about what they are feeling.

But in the process of taking these feelings to God, they allow their perspectives to be changed and to have their troubling feelings turned to joy by God at the reminder of who He is.

When your circumstances begin to change, when you head back to stressful classes, when you return to a difficult roommate situation or if being home with your family is a difficult circumstance even now, here are a few practicals for choosing joy after Christmas is over.

  1. Set aside space in your routine to read your Bible and reflect on who God is.

  2. Spend time talking to God through prayer. Tell Him about the things you are feeling or experiencing.

  3. Listen to or sing worship music. Make time to simply abide in God’s presence.

  4. Find ways to serve others even in the midst of your hardship.

 

Author | Lindsey Conway