Honestly, 2021 was quite a disheartening year.
Many expected that we could soon return to the pre-COVID life.
But those dreams slowly faded away when restrictions tightened up once again, new cases rose daily by the thousands and the Omicron variant emerged.
So as we begin 2022 with no end in sight to the pandemic, many of us may be wondering: is it possible to find joy again?
You’ll be glad to know it is. Not because God will remove all our problems, but because rejoicing in all circumstances is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
He’s already made such joy possible when we choose to rejoice. So here are some ways you can choose joy this new year.
6 WAYS YOU CAN CHOOSE JOY IN 2022
1. Reflect on what God has done
The previous year, as well as every year before that, had its low moments. At the same time, there were also moments in the year when God extended His grace to us.
Joy comes from reflecting on and acknowledging these positives, especially during difficult times.
How has God healed you? How has He met your needs or granted you success? Think of how He saved you from that crisis — protected you along with your loved ones.
He can do it again.
It’s not guaranteed! I hear that, but while it’s true that God doesn’t always remove our afflictions, we can take comfort in how His plans for us are “for good and not for disaster” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).
So while your suffering may not disappear, God is still at work. Remember, He works all things for the good of those who love Him — even the bad things that can happen in this fallen world.
It can be challenging to hold on to this. However, by remembering the good He has done in our lives, we remind ourselves that we worship a trustworthy and faithful God who has our best interest in mind.
That alone is reason to rejoice.
2. Focus on the right things
Besides reflecting on the good God has done in the past, we can also find the good He is giving to us now.
It’s easy to only see the bad in periods of pain; I myself tend to obsess over the source of my troubles during difficult situations.
But when we choose to see the good that God is doing, we gain strength and joy from Him to overcome our challenges.
For example, when David saw Goliath, he could have — like everyone else — focused on the fact that Goliath is a giant or has been a warrior since young.
Instead, David choose to focus on the fact that God was with him, and he ended up defeating the Philistines’ champion.
In the same way, choose to walk with God. Choose to see that God is with you. Choose to believe He is blessing you even in difficult times.
You may even want to start a journal to list down things to be thankful for. Don’t just include the big things like good health, having a loving community or being financially secure.
Remember to give thanks for the small things like wonderful weather, delicious food or a good conversation with a friend.
The more blessings you find, the more encouraged you’ll be. So, choose joy in this way.
3. Let go of some stuff
A new year is a time for renewal. Out with the old and in with the new, as they say.
Now, this doesn’t just apply to the clothes we no longer wear, but also to our thoughts, practices and people.
Do you have any regrets, grudges or worries left over from previous years? It’s high time to surrender them to God.
Then, replace these negative things by heeding Paul’s advice to think of whatever is lovely, noble and praiseworthy instead (Philippians 4:8).
Now, take a moment to consider: are you surrounded by people who are harmful to your life?
Some of us may believe we must stay in every relationship because we should be loving or accepting.
But that’s not quite what the Bible says.
Verses like Matthew 10:14 and Matthew 18:15-17 tell us that if we’ve done everything we can to peaceably make things right with a brother or sister, but a God-pleasing outcome isn’t possible — it’s not wrong to distance ourselves from those individuals.
As you obey God, He will give you grace for the day and joy for the future.
Paul even tells us to “have nothing to do” with certain people (2 Timothy 3:2-5) and that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Distancing ourselves from such people in life doesn’t mean we hate them. There are still loving things we can do, like pray for God to change their hearts.
And if God calls us to in the future, we can reach out in love again.
So, if God is calling you to let go of certain things, let go. If God is telling you to persevere, persevere.
As you obey Him, He will give you grace for the day and joy for the future.
4. Cultivate your worship life
Praising God and worshipping Him are not confined to our weekend church services!
Sing to God, even (especially) if it’s the last thing you want to do in a bad situation.
It’s what Paul and Silas did in Act 16:25-26. They were in chains and in a really bad place in life — but still chose to worship. As they did so, God came through for them.
When we worship, our anxieties are drowned out by the sounds of God being glorified.
When we worship in God’s presence, there is indescribable peace. That’s where God refuels us!
And when we praise God, the forces of spiritual darkness — which often weigh us down emotionally — have to flee from His presence.
God can also use the lyrics of worship songs to minister to us and bring healing to our lives.
With worship being the very purpose for which we were created, it’s no wonder that it holds so much power. So, be intentional with worshipping God this new year — it will also bring you immense joy.
5. Lean on your community
There will be days when you just can’t choose joy by your own strength. That’s when it’s time to reach out to others.
In my experience, simply sharing with friends about what’s hindering joy can bring much needed comfort.
It also allows our spiritual community to come into our lives and provide emotional or physical support.
Indeed, the Bible affirms that being able to depend on someone else is a good thing (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).
So while it’ll be more than easy to isolate ourselves as the pandemic continues in 2022, let’s choose to turn to our community when we are weak.
Our brothers and sisters can help carry our burdens, and give us strength and joy in fellowship.
6. Do pray pray
Last but not least, choose joy this year simply by praying to God about it. In fact, talking to God should always be our first resort in life.
God has promised that when we pray, He’ll listen and give us what we ask for if it’s in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15).
The Bible even tells us that we often go without, because we never thought to ask (James 4:2).
Maybe you haven’t asked because you don’t know how to. So I’ll conclude with a little prayer you can make to seek God’s help in choosing joy in the year ahead:
2022 is here and new trials will come along with it. I know there’ll be days when I’m troubled and overwhelmed. But since You are the source of all joy, I pray that in those low moments, You’ll turn my wailing into dancing as you did for David (Psalm 30:11). Give me the courage to choose joy amidst my suffering. A joy that never falters because it’s rooted in Jesus. A joy that’s complete because it endures through every season. Thank You Lord for the hope You’ve given me, and for every blessing You’ve yet to reveal to me this new year.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
- Looking back at past years, what are some of the good things God has done in your life?
- How about right now? What are some blessings you can be thankful for today?
- What do you have to let go of in 2022?
- Who’s your spiritual community? Take real steps to encourage and lean on one another as we begin this new year!