I’m pretty pumped my buddy Trish invited me to do a Kay Warren Bible study with her called: Choose Joy…Because Happiness Isn’t Enough. It’s exactly what I needed right now. I tend to get mired down in my own “stuff” forgetting the JOY that can be mine as a Christian. It encouraged me that Kay has struggled with depression and discouragement like I do

I’ve done numerous word studies on JOY, bravely underlining each verse in my Bible, writing copious notes in the margins. Yet still, the trouble persists. I’ve wondered why. Now, I finally feel like I’m starting to get some answers.

In our first lesson, Kay reminded us that Jesus was a man of JOY. JOY was the essence of His being – His nature. His role as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world was one of pain and suffering, but that was not His character.

Perhaps at Easter, we focus too much on the sadness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We repeatedly quote Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be, “Despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3-4, NKJV). All that is true, but it’s important to remember Jesus made that sacrifice because of JOY.

Last week, I watched the 2012 remake of the movie Steel Magnolias for the first time. One scene between the character M’Lynn, and her daughter Shelby, had a life-changing impact on me.

Shelby begins to break down at the thought of her mom sacrificing one of her kidneys in order to save her life, and begins to have second thoughts. But M’Lynn says, “You’re lookin at this all wrong. Most mothers only the get the chance to give their child life once. You’re givin me the opportunity to do it twice. I mean, I’m grateful I don’t have to just stand by helpless. It’s a blessin.”

I think that’s what Jesus would say. “Children, you’re looking at this all wrong. I gave you life once, but now because of my death on the cross, you have a second chance at life – eternal life. I didn’t have to stand by helplessly and watch you die in your sin. I had the power to do something about it.”

Jesus told Nicodemus in his nighttime visit that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3). “The Son of Man must be lifted up,He said, so “that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Jesus gladly gives us that chance.

That’s why it says, “For the JOY set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV, emphasis mine). Mission accomplished.

So this Easter, while I’m aware of the pain, misunderstanding, abandonment, and separation Jesus went through for our sake when He died on the cross, I’m concentrating more on His reason for going through with it. His motivation was to show us the extent of His love and He had the JOY of knowing that everyone who accepts His offer can also live a life of JOY.