Most of us can say 2020 has been one of the craziest, most difficult, and downright lousiest year we have ever experienced! Every time we turn on the news there is a new crisis we are facing. And although we have been “in it together” we have also collectively been in a place of discouragement and exhaustion.
One thing that has gotten me through 2020 with hope, faith and a positive attitude (most days LOL) is the “Rhema” (meaning right now) word of God. One of the scriptures I have found comforting during this season is James 1:2-4(NIV)“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.
I don’t know about you, but when I am going through trials (Hello 2020) I struggle to keep my joy! This is ironic considering my name is Joy. The bible says in Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. I have really begun to understand in this beset season the importance of Keeping My Joy and I want to share with you what I have learned.
Follow these 3 tips to find your joy in difficult times:
- Find your Joy is in the Lord and not in your circumstances.
Even as Christians it is easy to find our “joy” in other things, even good things, like our ministry, our kids, etc. However, when these things are shaky it brings us back to where our joy must be founded. Our joy has to be grounded in the Lord. When our joy is in the Lord we are able to keep our joy when we go through trials. Remember, happiness and joy are two very different things. Happiness is the feeling you get when things are going well; it’s based on your circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of pleasure, delight, gladness and well-being that is independent of circumstance.
My husband is a man of faith and he has always encouraged me to stand firm and keep the faith. Many years ago, when we were youth pastors, we had an unusual incident when we took our youth street witnessing. Basically a man in the neighborhood was not happy with what we were doing and he came off his porch and started to punch my husband in the face! The entire time this man was hitting my husband, Pastor Joshua was blessing him in the name of Jesus. He literally “practiced what he preached” right in front of some of our teens in our youth ministry. I was on another street and missed the whole thing. When I came back around, my husband, puffy-faced and skipping, came running over to me with such joy shouting, “I have been persecuted for Christ!” At that moment he demonstrated that our joy is in the Lord not our circumstances.
- Find your joy in obeying God in the little things.
Psalm 37:4 says: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV).
I can tell you from experience, walking in obedience brings life and unspeakable joy, while walking in disobedience brings frustration, confusion, and opens the door to the enemy. Find time to pray and really seek God about small ways you can be a blessing to other people. When we get caught up in all the troubles going on in the world we can feel overwhelmed and lose our joy. But when we obey God’s will and listen to his still small voice we will find a peace and joy that is hard to describe and is not easily lost. Also, when we submit to God it is easier to resist temptation and the lies of the enemy. We can’t solve all the world’s problems but we can do our part by finding ways to obey God and bless people with our presence (which is in a sense God’s presence since He lives in us). By doing this we will keep our joy and also spread it to others.
There is joy that can be found by simply showing up and loving the people God has put in our lives. Oftentimes we miss what God wants to do because we want to lead HUGE crusades. Instead God is looking for faithful people who will serve him in the little things, so He can receive all the glory! Don’t underestimate the power and impact of simply showing up for people who are going through difficult times.
If you don’t know where to begin, consider the following ideas of small acts of kindness that will bring joy to many:
• A phone call
• Shared bike ride
• Text message
• Coffee date
• Handwritten card
- Find your joy by meditating on God’s word!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV
After our youngest son Justice was born, I went through a challenging season. My problems ranged from financial hardships, dealing with slander and conflict in our church, to facing sickness in my body. It was during this tough time I learned how to cultivate the fruit of joy in the midst of affliction by meditating on God’s word. Unfortunately, this truth was hard won because I tended to be such a “Negative Nancy” in those days! I found it difficult to not constantly think about all my problems and even all my prayers were wrapped up in my hardships. The enemy seemed to constantly remind me of my pain. One night in particular, I was in excruciating agony because of a kidney stone. During this attack my father came over to take me to the hospital. I was in so much pain, but that didn’t stop my dad’s corny humor. He told me, “It’s OK Joy, this too shall pass!” Yes his statement was a little annoying at the time, but it was true and it did make me laugh! After all, laughter is good medicine!
I know 2020 seems like the longest year ever, and maybe you can’t find anything to laugh about, but I promise you this won’t last forever. This too shall pass! Don’t only ponder on your sufferings; instead meditate on the truth of God’s word. We must recall the fundamental truth that God is good! This year is already more than half way over – can I get a Hallelujah! God is still molding us and shaping us into the person He created us to be. Don’t linger on the brokenness too long! Before you know it, God will bring beauty from our ashes and joy from our mourning!
Friends, I want to encourage you today, no matter how rough your season is God is with us in the middle of our storms. He desires you to find your JOY!!!! God is teaching us that your joy is in Him not in your circumstances. You are learning to be faithful in the small things and how to submit to His will even in tremendously difficult times. Finally remember this too shall pass, but our joy will last forever when you keep your eyes fixed on him!