"I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast towards you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
On the very first day of January, I prayed that God would give me a word for this year. As I prayed, the word contentment came to mind. Honestly, I was like, "Uhmm, God, I already know how to be content! Why is that my word?"
But then a bunch of hard seasons got thrown in my path, and I learned real fast that I don't know what it means to truly be content and have joy no matter what!
It seems so controversial to actually, what - be happy while everything we've looked forward to and depended on gets cancelled! It's one of those things that are DEFINITELY easier said then done!
Here's something that I've learned: Joy isn't the same thing as being happy. Happiness is dependent on material things and doesn't last very long. Joy, on the other hand, is from GOD and remains even in the midst of trial. As someone said, joy is "the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Secondly, Joy is a choice that we have to make. It's not something that you can just wake up with and BOOM everything is sparkles and rainbows! Joy is like any other fruit of the Spirit - you have to practice it and choose to be grateful. In every moment and every season, you have the option to choose JOY!
I'm reading Philippians right now, and it's crazy how many times Paul talks about how he is rejoicing. He's literally in prison while writing that letter, away from the churches, and yet Paul is REJOICING! He is full of JOY! He could've chosen to sulk and complain and give up on the ministry. But instead, he chose to have joy. Wowww. If Paul, being in prison, can still rejoice, why can't I??
But even knowing all that, it can be hard to actually put it into practice. How can we choose joy and live a life that is overflowing with it, despite whatever is going on?
I'm reading a book called Be Joyful by Warren W. Wiersbe right now, and WOW is it good! I wanted to share a few of the things I learned that has helped me sooo much in living a life of joy :D
1. Have the "single mind" - look at everything as an opportunity to see how God WILL work, instead of complaining about what God didn't do.
When hard things come, I encourage you to pray that God would help you see those trials as opportunities to see God more clearly and see how He is working - how He will prove Himself faithful once again, how he will fill you with peace - there's just so much opportunity when we're at low points of our lives!
2. Have the "submissive mind" - serve!! I can't stress how powerful this one is. Serving is like the number one thing that brings me joy! When I serve, I'm just filled with so much joy and contentment.
Honestly, there's just something so fulfilling in taking our eyes off of ourselves and looking to serve others. As Wiersbe put it (and guys, this is a quote that COMPLETELY ROCKED my world):
"There can be no joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others."
AHHH! Yikes. When I read that, I was like, "WOAHHH." But it's so true!! I mean, I even experienced that the other day. I was thinking of myself the whole day, trying to make people listen to me and what I wanted, etc. And, not gonna lie, I felt so gloomy and moody and upset. I didn't experience much joy, because I was thinking of myself the whole day.
But the next day, I was like, I am not going to let that happen again today. I prayed that God would show me ways I could serve my family, and wow there was just so much joy in doing that - in serving in the littlest things, even!!
3. Have the "spiritual mind." Look at the things on earth in light of eternity - through God's eyes! Don't let things on earth steal your joy. Remember that all those things are temporary, and instead of seeking your joy from the earth, look to the One who created the earth and everything in it!
Ultimately, ask God to fill you with joy and to give you a heart full of gratitude. I encourage you to take time each night to write 5-10 things you're grateful for in a journal, and see how many you can get over the next few months! It's surprising how hard it can be on some days, but after doing it, it just shifts my perspective so much!
I pray that you would count it all joy (James 1:2) through this hard season we're all in. I pray that you would be so filled with joy that others would look at you and glorify GOD because of it!
Family - we have a huge opportunity around us. People are watching to see how you are reacting to this Covid season, and I pray that you would choose to have joy, continue loving others, and draw closer to the Lord in this season - that others may see your testimony and believe in our good, faithful and perfect God.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."