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These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
There are many references for "joy" in the Bible; the most well known takes us to Advent when we read Mary's Magnificat. Mary's song provides amazing perspective on joy: "My soul magnifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God!"

Remember-she's a 13-14 year old unmarried woman. This pregnancy could cast her out of society, even invoking the death penalty. Most people in similar circumstances would not sing or rejoice! What gives Mary her joy? She has perspective-she knows that beyond her frightening human circumstances is a purpose, a place in history. She understands that God is working through even this most difficult of situations. She believes the angel! And so, from this perspective, she can rejoice.

Here is Mary's song. Consider your own very human circumstances, even the most difficult and imagine matching your voice to Mary's:

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is God's name! God's mercy extends to those who are in awe, in all generations God has performed mighty deeds and has scattered those who are proud. God has brought down rulers from their thrones and has lifted up the humble. God has filled the hungry with good things and has sent the rich away empty. God has aided Israel, in great mercy and fulfills all the divine promises!  (Luke 1: 47-55)
FROM THE BOOK OF JOY: "The Dalai Lama has discussed the importance of a wider perspective when he was telling us about how he was able to see the calamity of losing his country as an opportunity. It was jaw-dropping to hear him 'reframe more positively' the last half century of exile. He had been able to see not only what he had lost but also what he had gained: wider contact and new relationships, less formality and more freedom to discover the world and learn from others. He had concluded, '...if you look from one angle, you feel, Oh, how bad, how sad. But if you look from another angle at that same tragedy, that same event, you see that it gives me new opportunities.'" (195)
QUESTIONS FOR EXPLORING JOY: How in your life can you "rejoice in God my Savior?" Despite a difficult circumstance, can you thank God for the opportunities that have come out of hardship? 
ACTION STEPS: When you find yourself in a difficult circumstance or even experiencing a minor irritation, stop, breath and think of three (3) things you are thankful to God for in that very moment. Afterwards, consider talking to a friend or journaling what that experience was like for you.
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