What would you say is the opposite of joy?
There’s a lot that comes to mind: gloomy, unhappy, despondent, miserable, but near the top of my list...Cynicism.
The cynic is quick to complain. Quick to criticize. Pessimistic, snide, sarcastic, always critical, always finding faults. I could not think of more polar opposites than joy and cynicism. I don’t know if they could even be in the same room together. (Cynicism would probably storm out because Joy was having too much fun!)
The Bible gives us examples of people being cynical. Jonah’s cynical attitude toward Nineveh (Jonah 4), Nathaneal’s cynical response of “Can anything good come from Nazareth” (John 1:46). Some Christians fall into the trap of cynicism disguising it as being “spiritual” or “discerning,” as they readily see the negative qualities of a person, thing, or idea and are quick to point them out. But a critical spirit is a roadblock to joy because it affects our relationship with God and with others.
Jesus gives us insight on this in John chapters 13-17. This section gives us Jesus’ final 24 hours with his disciples. This is no insignificant chat or incidental moment, it’s an intimate conversation with deep wisdom. What’s profound across those five chapters detailing his last hours before the cross, Jesus mentions “joy” at least eight times. In 15:11 he says, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.” Notice it’s “his joy.”
He’s not talking to these guys as a man who doesn’t know sorrow. He knows deep pain, but he has a joy that no sorrow could ever overcome. Jesus uses these last moments to first tell them of the true source of peace: His own peace. Now he tells them the true source of joy: His joy. The very joy that sustained His own heart through his darkest moments.
Notice the way he ministers to his friends with troubled hearts. He wants to speak the same over you.
You might not label yourself a cynic, but it’s easy to blame outside things for why we can’t find anything to rejoice about. But the truth is we still choose our attitude. In every day, in every moment, we always have a choice. Choose joy today.