Last week I talked about faith through surrender–not always an easy task. As we surrender, by faith, to His will we can do it grudgingly or joyfully. Our choice is to dutifully go about our tasks because we know it’s the ”right thing to do”, or serving with joy? I would love to say I always serve with joy, but alas it is not true. We are often surrounded by “joy stealers”, and if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves as depressed, depleted and discouraged believers. Not really the abundant life our Lord has planned for us.
When we get deluged with negative thoughts, victim feelings or discouraging worms eating away at our confidence, joy can seem as elusive as a butterfly on a winter’s day. We can choose to press on with more of a brute determination using our natural will power while carrying these negative feelings along the journey or choose to make a change. If we carry on with life as usual we carry the extra weight of discouragement that is not His plan.
If you begin to recognize this pattern in your life the first thing you need to do is to stop! Take a minute or as long as it takes and pray. Ask the Lord to help you sort through your thoughts and feelings. David stopped and prayed in Psalm 51:12 restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 28:6-7 Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield, and I trust him with all my heart, He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Monday morning I woke up feeling sad and if I admit it a bit depressed and fearful. Let me tell you, it did not feel well within my soul! Joy would not have been part of my description on how I was feeling. My feelings told me to crawl back under the covers and give in to the sadness. I knew of several areas and circumstances that added themselves to my feelings, but once again the Holy Spirit said, STOP. What would the outcome be of your cowering under the covers? You still have to face those things. Why not deal with it now? Why not? I am so thankful we have access to the Holy Spirit and HIs wisdom.
So, once again I began to think ‘what can I do to change things”? First of all, I realized that by talking to the Lord about how I was feeling I was already on the right path of changing things. I then put on worship music. I began to thank the Lord for His solutions to each of the issues that were trying to make me go small. Have you been there? Feelings can feel very real and very large. Truth can seem distant and difficult to believe when Fearful Feelings raise their ugly heads. As I began to praise Him and focus on already answered prayers, on His loving grace things began to change. I asked for His help and He sent it. I could have gotten up and tucked all those feelings back in my soul, but I refuse to settle for that kind of life. I actually burst out in song. A few minutes later someone called to share an answered prayer, then another phone call with a need and on my day went. Faced some giants down that have been plaguing me for three years, trusting I will never have to fight them again!!
Living your life as a believer without His joy is no fun. Do not settle for less than His best. I believe joy helps us stretch our faith and trust even more. Father, I ask that you help us defeat the joy stealers in our lives. Remind us to monitor our joy level and take the time to connect with you when we find it running low. Bless my friends with the fullness of your joy today.