Belle the basset hound is rather like Eeyore the donkey. Sad eyes, melancholy nature, even a missing tail. Maybe they’re twins who were separated at species.
Sometimes when we unlock Belle’s crate door to let her out, she refuses. She lifts a heavy eyebrow to say, “No thanks. I’ll just stay here and be miserable.”
Honestly, I can relate. I often default toward the depressed. I’ve noticed, too, many fellow Belles and Eeyores around me. Many of us seem perfectly content with a lack of joy.
Meaning, we don’t want to cheer up.
Meaning, no amount of encouragement or optimism will improve our negative outlooks. We’d rather just stay miserable.
But we can learn contentment, Paul says, and while we can’t choose our circumstances, we can choose joy. So why is that choice so difficult for the Belles and Eeyores…and Amys…among us?
Two reasons, I think. First, because choosing joy requires faith. Trust is scary, but when I believe that God is good—and at work for my good—then I can have joy regardless of the circumstances. My joy-level rises and falls with my level of trust, and as faith grows, joy overflows.
Secondly, joy is a difficult choice because it requires obedience. Some days and in some situations, “obey” is most definitely a four-letter word. I fight hard against submission, but joy always comes when I finally surrender—when I determine to obey Him in everything. “I will do what You say, Lord, regardless of how I feel.” Obedience never fails to bring joy.
Joy for me is a daily—sometimes hourly—choice, and I don’t always walk in faith and obedience. But oh, to live a life of joy! To learn a lesson from Belle and Eeyore, and leave the cage of my own misery. I choose joy, and joy sets me free.
Previous Lessons from a Basset Hound: