a guest post by Lila Diller
I don’t think I’m the right person to try to teach others about joy. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit that I have the hardest time with. Not that any of them are easy, but joy is one of the harder ones for me. It’s especially hard when financial struggles steal joy.
The vast majority of my life has been under financial stress. When I was young, I didn’t realize it until I started wanting things that all my friends had. My parents couldn’t just buy me the video game console or nice clothes I wanted. I soon realized those weren’t necessities. But I always saw our lack.
Then I went to college and worked my butt off to help pay my way through. My parents also worked as much overtime as they could to help. We all worked long and hard. And I graduated debt-free. I also graduated dirt-broke.
When Financial Struggles Steal Joy
I got married the next year. After only three months, my husband lost his job. As soon as I got pregnant, I stayed home with my babies. I don’t regret that decision. But it sure hasn’t helped us build any nest egg. We experience periods that range from “just enough” to struggling through poverty again.
God has always provided. I know that. I’ve seen Him do it time and again.
But every time we lose income, I fall right back into that habit of worrying. My mom is a classic worrier, and I learned from the best. It’s still my fault, though. I know better. But knowing I shouldn’t worry and actually not worrying are two very different things.
To me, worry is not necessarily a lack of trust. It’s usually a fear of the future. I know God will provide what we need. But I know what I think I need may classify as a want. I don’t know if our real needs are enough for me.
I’m scared that He’ll ask me to give up our house. I fear He’ll ask me to give up my choice of foods. Fearing I’ll have to give up my entire routine and everything I enjoy doing seems natural. I’m scared He’ll ask us to give everything up. I am not sure I could handle that.
This is what steals my joy.
Content in All Circumstances
How right was King Solomon when he wrote: “Don’t be rich or poor; a happy medium is the best” (Lila’s version).
“…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8b-9, ESV).
Boy, I know why being poor is not desired. It’s hard to think of anything else and really easy to blame it on God. Even when I’m trying to trust in Him, every grocery store visit is a test in self-control, math prowess (which I’ve never claimed to), and trust that it will last another week.
I’ve never known what it feels like to be rich. At least, that’s how I think when I look around at people in my country, even in my church. But when I force myself to look around at the world, I see that I’m rich compared to them. “Rich” and “poor” are relative terms. It all depends on who you’re comparing yourself to.
I must remind myself to compare myself to Paul. He said he had learned contentment with all circumstances, whether living in abundance or living in need, whether full or hungry (Phil. 4:12). I guess I’ve never faced true hunger. We always at least have another peanut butter & jelly sandwich, even if that’s what we had the day before. But we have always eaten three meals a day.
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Thinking of those less fortunate than I really does make me thankful for what I do have. So we don’t have central air and the temperature in the main room gets up to 92ºF in the hottest part of the summer. At least we have electricity for fans and window units in our bedrooms.
So we don’t have the latest models of appliances or the newest cars. We have enough to get the jobs done and get where we’re going.
So our bathrooms have water damage and we can’t afford to repair it. At least we still have indoor plumbing and sanitation.
So we can’t afford to go out to eat every day. At least we have food on the table.
So we don’t have the latest smartphones and gadgets. Our ancient knockoffs are better than nothing at all.
So our boys don’t have the latest video consoles or nicest bikes or coolest toys. They’re still imaginative and innovative.
I actually have a lot to be grateful for. I just need to remember them. I need to focus not on my lack but on my abundance.
And I have been given so much. Even if I had nothing, I would still be “blessed… in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3, ESV).
You are rich, too.
Embrace Today’s Joy One Day at a Time
I still worry sometimes. And I’m sure you do, too. Let’s not let fear steal our joy. Let’s give thanks for what we already have and not worry about what we don’t.
Jesus told us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [food and clothes] will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:33-34, NIV).
The only way we can let go of our fear of the future and embrace today’s joy is to focus on one day at a time.
Related Articles You’re Sure to Love
Encouragement to Overcome Isolation
Staying Joyful as a Stay-At-Home Mom of Littles
Joy in Daily Frustrations
Lila is an author of Christian Romance novels, blogger, and homeschool mom. She loves sushi and Mexican food, Hallmark movies, anything dark chocolate, the color purple, and reading in her pajamas. Lila, outnumbered by a houseful of males, lives with her supportive husband Chris, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog in Statesville, NC. She loves to help readers create romance in their marriages and in their spiritual walks with Jesus and can be found at liladiller.com.
a guest post by Sarah Ishaku
On October 26, 1985, I was enjoying a good time with friends; suddenly I received news that my mother was seriously ill. The looks of my brother-in-law who brought the news to me indicated that there was something more; though he tried to conceal it, his actions were glaring. He could not hide the fact that he was also grieving; it was obvious that she was already dead.
Oh, how painful it is to lose a loved one, especially a mother. My mother was the source of my joy; what would I make out of life again? I wondered in my mind as I wept bitterly. Everywhere became dark within those days. Nothing made sense anymore; even my best food was no longer appealing. Life tends to be sweet when all is well, but when things take a different turn, we hardly see any good in it.
Lasting Joy is Found in Christ
After the death of my mother, I was left with no other choice than to trust in God completely. It was then that I experienced true joy that is found in Christ. Since that time I developed the courage to face the future with confidence; knowing that God is with me. Yes, though the journey hasn’t been free from obstacles, God has always been there for me at the right time, and I know He will always be.
Perhaps you are reading this post because you are also stuck in life; you may have been searching for happiness with little or no result? Maybe like me then, your expectation has been cut short and you feel joyless and hopeless. When faced with bad situations God seems to be very far away from us. When we are overwhelmed with emotions we don’t feel His presence around us anymore. Many of us in our pain have cried, oh Lord, where are you? Phillip Yancey asked that question in his popular book titled, Where is God when it Hurts. Have you ever asked such a question? I guess you have; in one way or the other.
Joy Wrapped in Pain
The presence of evil in this world poses challenges on our life journey. As a result, we cannot avoid its troubles, but we can avoid the impact of its troubles on us. As the saying goes, “You cannot stop the bird from flying, but you can stop it from building a nest on your head”. God did not promise us a problem-free world, but He promised to deliver us from any problems we may encounter. When Jesus was about to leave this world He told His disciples what they were going to pass through. Then He said,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. John 16:33
What Are You Facing?
Dear reader, what are you facing right now? Are there challenges that seem overwhelming, and you are almost losing hope? God is calling you by name, just as he addressed the Israelites; He is addressing you by name saying,
“He who created you,( your name), He who formed you ( your name).Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” Isaiah 43:1-2
What can be as comforting and promising as this?
If the king of the universe said you should not fear, then you don’t need to fear the storm because He is right there with you in the storm. Your boat will not capsize; you will reach the shore safely. God is ever present with those who trust in Him in whatever situation; both in good times and bad times. He loves us dearly that He cannot abandon us even for a second.
God’s Purpose in All Things
The fact that God allows challenges to come our way does not mean He is handicapped or doesn’t love us, but He has a purpose for everything. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our thoughts His thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9. He has good plans for us, plans to prosper us, and not to harm us; to give us hope and a future. Jer.29:11
The Scripture says,
“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”. James 1:2-4
What is James telling us here, is there joy in pain? According to the Scripture; yes. I can almost hear you ask, how? God chooses to use challenges to mold us into the kind of people He wants us to become. For only then we can achieve our destiny.
Food for thought
I love the poem titled Footprints in the Sand. You can read it here.
The poem recounts a dream of a man who walked with the Lord along a beach. He could see two sets of footprints in the sand. At certain times, however, only one set of footprints appeared. The man asked the Lord why, when he needed God the most, He would leave him alone. God explained that during the most troubling times, He didn’t leave the man but carried him along his journey.
Encouraging; isn’t it?
One Requirement for Lasting Joy
All we need to enjoy lasting joy is to remain steadfast in Christ. When faced with life challenges we should remember that:
- In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Rom.8:28
- He who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all; how will He not also, along with him graciously give us all things? Rom.8:33
- If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom.8:31b
- No one.
Sarah Ishaku is a Pastor’s wife; a writer and a speaker. She is passionate about helping women in their marital struggles. Sarah blogs at www.thewomanworth.com
Related Posts You’re Sure to Enjoy:
The Joy of Abundant Life in Jesus
4 Helpful Strategies to Find Joy After Loss
The Joy-Worship Connection
A Guest Post by Sophie Elise
You had the perfect hour planned. The kids would go down for their naps and quiet times and you would sit on the deck with your cup of tea and Bible for a little quiet time of your own to refuel for the rest of the day.
All that stood between you and that hour of bliss was your children’s cooperation.
You started with your toddler. Next, you gave him his milk, read him a story, patted his back much longer than you would have liked to. Finally, he fell asleep. You tiptoed stealthily out of his room, silently screaming at the squeaky door as you inched it shut behind you.
Next up is your preschooler. You read to her, cuddle her, sing her favorite song. Take her to the bathroom. Twice. Finally, she too settles.
You put the kettle on for tea and gather your journal, pen, and Bible.
Then the unthinkable happens–just as you’re pouring the tea into your oversized mug, you hear him cry. He’s awake and upset, and you know by the ferocity of that scream that your desperately needed quiet time just disappeared.
What do you do now? How do you reconnect with Jesus–the source of all joy–in the middle of a chaotic day with your littles?
Is it possible to refill our cups with joy so that we have enough to pour out on these precious ones who depend on us so dearly?
The Source of All Joy
First, let’s consider where our joy comes from and in what circumstances we are intended to feel joy. Then we will look at how we can reconnect with our source of joy when we can’t even hear ourselves think.
The greatest joy we can know comes from Jesus: Peter says, Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). When we believe in Jesus–simply believe–we are filled with joy.
Joy also comes from the inworking of the Holy Spirit in us: Paul reminds us, the fruit of the Spirit is … joy (Galatians 5:22). When we accept and walk by the Holy Spirit, we produce this fruit.
Further, it comes from trusting in God: again, Paul writes, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him (Romans 15:13).
So, if our joy comes from believing in Jesus, walking by the Holy Spirit, and trusting in God, our job, then, is to set our minds on these things daily (or as often as needed) so that we can stay joyful.
The territory of a stay-at-home mom with little children is often challenging. The demands on your body, mind, and energy are heavy, and there are too few breaks throughout the day to refresh. I’m a homeschooling mama of four kids ranging in age from one to ten, and I struggle with this regularly. I get so tired out from being “on” as a mother all day–answering all the questions; cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning; settling sibling disputes; trying to get exhausted toddlers with the willpower of mules to take naps.
Where, in the midst of all that, does one find the time to stay joyful?
Called to Rejoice Always
The answer, at first glance, may not be totally reassuring. James 1:2-3 tells us, 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. Easy peasy, right?
Staying home with our children is a privilege, to be sure. I feel deep mom guilt every time I complain–even inwardly–about how hard it can be. I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to witness every miraculous moment of my children’s development. But some days, it so doesn’t feel that way. My faith is seriously tested. I’m tired, I’m worn down, I’m weak. The enemy uses that opportunity to whisper lies: you’re not good enough. You can’t do this. It’s too much for you.
But my God whispers back truths: I delight in you. (Isaiah 62:4). You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13). Come to me. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. (Matthew 11:28).
Even as We’re Tested
Is my faith tested daily as a stay-at-home-mom? Absolutely. Is it producing perseverance, as I learn to trust in Him and walk by His Spirit? Indeed. And not only are we called to rejoice when we face trials, but in all of our afflictions, suffering, and, oh yeah, always.
Always. In all things.
In our living rooms this morning as we soothe our children after one more tantrum, and in situations far more difficult. In the words of Saint Paul, “Again, I say, rejoice!”
Putting it into Practice
That’s not to say this is easy. Focusing on our faith in Christ, our trust in God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us in the midst of chaos is hard.
Here are some ideas on how you can draw your attention back to these greater truths when you’re feeling completely worn down in your role as a mom.
There are countless references in the Bible to ‘songs of joy’ and ‘shouts of joy.’ The Israelites danced and sang joyful songs with timbrels and lyres. David told the Levites to make joyful sounds. Psalm 28:7 says, My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him. We are created to praise and worship the Lord with a joyful noise!
Worship is something you can do–together with your kids–at any time of day. When you’re feeling especially drained, play a few of your favourite worship videos through your computer or TV. Let the kids sit or dance as the screen captures their attention, while you meditate on the lyrics, or better yet, sing along in your loudest, most joyful voice. It only takes a few songs to renew a spirit.
2. Give Thanks
When we give thanks to God, we reflect on all He has done in our lives and throughout history, and we cannot help but increase our faith and trust in Him, which we know leads directly to joy.
Make a list with your children of all the things you are grateful for. Let them decorate the list with colored markers and glitter. Praise God together for His goodness and His faithfulness.
A little reminder for the morning to stay focused on God’s strength.
3. Serve Together
Let’s head back to Galatians 5 for a moment. How does Paul define walking by the Spirit? Using our freedom…to serve one another humbly in love. (vs. 13). This is what will produce the fruits of the Spirit (including joy) in us.
Bake cookies and bring them to your next door neighbour. Draw pictures together and ask your children who they would like to give them to. Offer to watch the children of another tired mama for an afternoon so she can get some rest. Make a nice dinner together and set the table fancily as a surprise for the rest of the family when they get home.
Look for ways to bring joy to others and see how God, in turn, fills you with his Spirit of joy.
Staying joyful as a stay-at-home mom of littles can be a challenge, even on the best of days, but as we recall His promises and engage in the activities that help us remember how good our God is, we too will experience His inexpressible and glorious joy.
Sophie Elise is a writer, entrepreneur, and homeschool mom of four, passionately pursuing God’s rest. She writes to encourage women to persevere in faith and deepen their trust in God. She’d love to connect with you through her website, My Cup Runs Over or on Facebook.
Joy in Daily Frustrations by Meredith Curtis
How Getting Back to Basics can Help You Embrace Joy by Cathy McIntosh
The Joy-Worship Connection by Jennifer King
a guest post by Meredith Curtis
“Move!” I ordered aloud to the car in front of me.
I was at a stop light that had just turned green, running late, of course. The car just sat and finally moved forward through a yellow light. For me to follow, I would have run a red light. So, I waited for the green again, FUMING!
Where was my joy?
I spent hours on dinner, making everyone’s favorite.
Julianna texted, “Meeting a friend after work.”
Shine and Jimmy informed me, as they were heading toward the door, “We’re going to Navigators tonight after class.”
My husband came into the kitchen, lifted the lid and sighed. “Did I mention I’m fasting?”
So, Jenny Rose and I sat down to eat my delicious dinner and the rest of my hard work went into a plastic storage container.
Where was my Joy?
I could spend several pages sharing similar stories from the last few weeks of my life.
When Daily Frustrations Get You Down
Are you smiling because you’ve had similar experiences? Can you think of little frustrations in your own life?
It seems that in my life, I can feel God’s Presence through the tough stuff, but the daily frustrations really get me down. You know the feeling—you’re running late and you hit every red light. Sigh. I hate that pounding in my chest when I feel so frustrated, so far away from the Gentle Shepherd who says, “Take my yoke and learn from me because I am gentle and humble in heart.”
Why is it harder in the small stuff to keep my eyes on Jesus?
Is it because in the big stuff, I have to totally rely on the Lord? But in the little day-to-day activities of life, I say to God, “Don’t worry, Lord. I’ve got this! I don’t need you. I can do it myself.” Of course, I would never say that. But, deep down, is that where my heart is?
Trusting Jesus in the Small Stuff Too
You see when something is big, I know I can’t handle it myself and I rely on Jesus. However, isn’t it true that I need Jesus in the small stuff too?
Don’t I need Him to drive to the YMCA to work out, as much as I need Him to help me walk through the death of a friend? Just writing that on paper makes it seem silly. Why do I need Jesus in the little things? Because Jesus said I can do nothing apart from Him. No thing! Nothing!
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5 NASB).
You see, Jesus wants me to be abiding in Him 24/7. Not just in the tough times. Not just in the hard times.
The Joy of Abiding with Jesus
The amazing thing to me is that Jesus wants to share every detail of my life. He wants to lead me, guide me, turn all the bad things to good in His eternal purposes. All I have to do is surrender to Him, to walk with Him, to abide with Him. He wants me to find His joy in the daily frustrations as much as the daily celebrations.
Jesus never said to His disciples, “Do something great for me!” He said, “Follow me.” And they did. They went where He went, they traveled together, they listened to His teachings, they watched Him perform miracles, and they knew Him intimately.
Today, He still calls us to follow Him, to walk with Him, to know Him. If I remain connected to Him, the fruit (love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) will be naturally come forth in my life. A tree doesn’t put forth an effort to produce fruit. As the farmer cultivates the soil, prunes the branches, and fertilizes, the fruit grows.
So maybe all those little frustrations are just my loving Father in Heaven going “clip, clip” pruning me back so I can be more fruitful. Maybe Jesus wants ALL of me. He wants to live His life through me. He wants me to surrender, not tell Him, “I’ve got this!”
Crucified with Christ
You see there is an amazing truth that happened to me when I gave my heart to Christ and was born again.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20 NASB).
The old me, the one who is frustrated in traffic and when no one stays home to eat my special meal is dead. She has been crucified with Christ. Now I live by faith in Jesus, abiding in Him, letting Him live His life through me. All the striving, agenda, frustration can leave and I can put my hope in Jesus. I feel so much peace as I write this, reminding myself of an eternal truth. If Jesus did it all so I could truly live, then I want to live that peaceful life of allowing Him to get me to places on time, to order my life, to bring good out of the little frustrations that wage war against my soul.
If I abide in Him throughout my entire day, joy will flow. Joy will keep flowing because it comes from staying connected to Jesus.
Remember Jesus. He loves you. He is with you. Stay connected to Him.
Love in Christ,
Meredith Curtis, pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of five amazing children, and grandmother to 3, loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies, and sometimes even cooks dinner! She believes that all of life is a grand adventure with so much to learn and discover about Jesus. She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, and God’s Girls Beauty Secrets, as well as Bible studies, unit studies, and high school classes. Meredith wants to encourage Christian ladies and families to enjoy a joy-filled life filled with the Presence of God. Visit Meredith at powerlineprod.com/, jshomeschooling.com/, and meredithcurtis.com/.
A guest post by Joy Hunt
Our world puts much emphasis on doing.
I get it. I’m a “doer.”
We learn by doing.
Doing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Actually, according to James 1:22 we’re supposed to be doers of the Word, and not just readers or knowers. But sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in my to-dos.
You too?! It’s not just me?
Sometimes, I even get so busy that I find myself avoiding Jesus by getting even busier. (I talked about it in this blog post not long ago). Let me tell you, that can steal your joy. That’s not supposed to happen to me…my name is Joy! Literally!
Sometimes our busyness is something we can control. In that case, we need to set good boundaries for ourselves and make sure to practice Sabbath as a spiritual discipline. But sometimes, the busy isn’t something we can control (or something we can get out of right away). If you find yourself overcommitted, you usually can’t just drop everything. And if the busy is a cycle of taking care of kids or trying to make ends meet…you can’t just make that go away.
Embracing Today’s Joy in the Midst of Busyness
The good news is that God’s Word is for our Real Life, and he has provided ways for us to stay on track even when life is beyond crazy. So here are 6 ways to find joy in the midst of busyness.
#1 Don’t go it Alone.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT
It is so important to surround yourself with strong relationships – both family and friends – that will walk the journey with you. I can tell you from personal experience…without those friendships, you can find yourself sinking into depression, losing perspective on life, and falling into sin seemingly out of nowhere because you are so lonely that it’s like your radar doesn’t work. Trust me. I have been there. Ask me about last year sometime. Friends will encourage you, pray for you, do some of the things with you…even step in and rescue you from your schedule every once in a while. Like Galatians 6:2 says, we need to share each other’s burdens. That means you have to find some “each others” to build relationships with first. It won’t come easy for some of us. You may have to knock on a few doors. If that’s you, I really recommend you start with a mentor or leader (I started with my Christian therapist) to help keep some perspective and have someone to talk to while you’re searching for those few friends. Friendships take time to build, but they are SO worth the investment. They will guard you against joy-stealers, for sure.
#2 Hit Pause.
Remember that thing about Sabbath? It was actually created for us (Mark 2:27), because we need it. Learn to practice Sabbath as a spiritual discipline. Learn to stop, even if you don’t think you can take a day off. Take a few hours off. It will be okay. Life won’t come to an end. You will come away from Sabbath re-anchored in your identity as God’s Kid and the mission he created you for. You’ll come away with a clearer mind so the lies of the enemy can’t sneak in behind all the “busy” thought clutter.
#3 Throw off Everything that Hinders
(even if it isn’t sin)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
Did you notice that distinction there? We are supposed to “strip off every weight that slows us down,” especially sin. That means…there are things that slow us down that aren’t even sin. They are just too much for us…maybe too much for this season. This could be an activity on your schedule. It could be a habit, like TV or social media. Things that aren’t sin can still hinder us and make it hard to run with endurance and perseverance the race before us, because they are holding us back. Ever try running laps pulling a deadweight behind you (or dragging your toddler out of the car)? Not much joy there. You get focused on the deadweight instead of on the race, and it isn’t fun anymore. You lose sight of the prize.
What might be holding you back?
- Unhealthy relationships
- Social media
- Just too many activities
- Too much stuff
- What else?
#4 Let the Gospel Drive your Productivity
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
This is a hard one sometimes…sometimes there is work that needs to be done that I just don’t want to do. But we were created to work, and our work glorifies God. Whether we are serving in ministry, working in a corporate office or on a manufacturing line, or wiping baby bottoms, our work is for God, not for people. We can find joy in the midst of busyness by remembering who we really work for.
The funny thing is, this will make us better at whatever work we do, and the better we get, the more we will enjoy it! There’s a great book by Matthew Perman called What’s Best Next (affiliate link) about this idea of “gospel-driven productivity.” Because of Jesus – who he is, who he created us to be, and what he has done for us – we want to look for the very best ways to do the work we do, and then work at it with all our heart. Knowing you are working hard AND smart for the best boss ever can help us find joy no matter what work we’re doing or how overwhelmed we feel at times.
#5 Celebrate the Small Things
Make a big deal about them. Be thankful to God for every little victory. I love the mini-celebrations they do on Air1 radio where people call in to celebrate “I folded ALL the laundry!” When we celebrate the small victories, we thank God and get excited about what “me + Jesus” are doing. And thankfulness is one of the quickest paths to joy that I have found. It totally flips your perspective around.
It Begins with Why: Finding the Freedom to Spark True Transformation – eBook
#6 Remember your Why.
(if you don’t have a good one, refer to #3)
If you’re in that busy season and things are crazy right now, on purpose, you need to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. When you are working really hard to pay off debt like I am, put up reminders of why you are working like a crazy person (and how soon you will be done!). If you are staying home with the kids so they will get the best upbringing, even though money is tight, remind yourself why that relationship is so important. When you don’t have a good reason for why things are nuts right now, you probably need to get rid of some things. (see #3). Life should never be crazy for a prolonged period of time without a good reason, something worth fighting for. So figure out what that something is, and use it to stay clear and focused, to stay motivated and plugged into your joy. Without a “why,” it starts to feel like everything is meaningless, and that feeling is a joy THIEF!
What are some of the ways you hold onto joy in the midst of busyness?
You can embrace today’s joy by taking these few simple ways to follow God’s recipe to stay on track—even when life gets crazy busy!
Joy Hunt is a supply chain professional by day and a pastor and Bible school professor by night. Her mission is to get really nerdy about the Bible and then help YOU connect it to YOUR real life. You can check out her FREE 5-day challenge to Build a Life-Proof Bible Study Habit here. Joy blogs at https://www.realworldbiblestudy.com/
A guest post by Ailie Baumann
I’ve lost my joy, I think to myself. The overwhelming stress of my new surroundings seems to have suppressed every bone in my body that held an ounce of joy. The weather outside reflects my emotional and spiritual state – bleak and grey.
I’ve regularly experienced degrees of anxiety. Not enough to have an anxiety issue or disorder. Still, anxiety, stress, overwhelm, and fear have been unwanted companions for a long time. Mostly, I excuse them away with claims of “I’m an introvert” or “I just need familiarity”.
These unwelcome companions are stealers of my joy, of your joy. They work together to reduce our world into a limited circle of familiar faces, places, and routine. Instead of stepping out in faith, we huddle in comfort zones while longing for change and adventure.
The worst part of it lies in the shocking reality that in those uncomfortable times in life, I have called these “unwanted companions” back into my life. Why? Because of sheer desperation to feel normal or return my internal experience back to what I’m accustomed to.
Does it work? No. For weeks, I have cried on and off to the Lord desperate for freedom from these illogical waves of anxiety. My desperation for joy turns my prayers into shallow and hollow sentences bouncing off walls. I’ve forgotten His truth.
What is Satan’s plan in all this?
In all of this, the enemy plays with my mind. Familiar thought patterns whirl round and round. Each thought requires deliberate action to take it captive and submit it to Christ. The enemy wants you and me to remain captive in familiarity, fear, anxiety, stress, and doubt. He wants us to remain in our comfort zones, frustrated with life and blaming God for the lack of impact our lives have on those around us.
The result: Ineffective Christian women who have lost sight of who they are in Christ. This ripples into a lack of joy and loss of purpose. We no longer pose a threat to the kingdom of darkness. No, we are right where Satan wants us to be – sitting on the fence licking our wounds.
God’s truth is empowering
In this moment, I can blame God, others, circumstances, myself; or, I can listen to the voice of the Lord as He reminds me of His truth.
- You and I are no longer slaves to sin, our past, circumstances, etc. We belong to Him. God decided we were so worth loving that we were literally worth dying for. (Galatians 4:4-7)
- Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Our hope is in Christ Jesus who lives in us. In Him we live and move and have our being. We are supposed to find our familiarity in the presence of God. His love, peace, joy, grace, goodness, majesty are our familiarity no matter what we go through.
- You and I are children of God, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). We get to have every spiritual blessing in heaven (Ephesians 1:3). We are blessed forever and ever. Our generations are blessed.
- You and I are in right-standing with God. (Romans 5:1)
But how do I get joy?
I’ve wrestled with this question myself. Here’s what I’ve concluded thus far:
Firstly, we have a choice to make. We can either continue to mope and struggle in our lack of joy and be dictated to by our circumstances and emotions. Or, we can choose to renew our minds by believing what God has to say about us, others, and our situations. The choice is ours to make. Either way, He remains with us, ever faithful.
Secondly, joy is a fruit that we bear. Have you ever seen a tree or plant convincing itself to bear fruit? (I’m having a good laugh out loud right now so come on join me in a good giggle.) Ridiculous right?
A tree bears fruit in its season, not a moment sooner or later. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. We can’t make joy by going to church every Sunday, being involved in multiple church events, activities or meetings (as great as those are). We get joy as we abide in Him and He abides in us. It comes out of us naturally. We can’t make ourselves have joy.
Maybe you are like me and today, you are in a season of growth and development. Maybe you are not seeing joy in your life (according to your expectation) because God is busy pruning you so that you may have an even greater harvest of joy.
Either way, joy is coming so long as you are resting in the presence of God.
Here are 5 Scriptures to get your joy back
To encourage you to persevere through your situation and remain in the joy of the Lord, here are some amazing Scriptures:
- Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b
- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit Romans 15:13
- For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
- TheLord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of Isaiah 51:3
- Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for the Psalm 126:2
I encourage you to memorize, meditate, and soak in these Scriptures until the truth of God’s Word breaks any hold the enemy has over today’s joy. You can get your joy back. Today.
Online Christian Coach, blogger, wife and mum, Ailie is passionate about helping women discover their value, purpose, and self-worth in Jesus. Using life coaching techniques, counseling, and prayer, she walks with you every step of the way encouraging you as you encounter the unique way God speaks to You!