Have you ever pushed through fear to do something that terrified you? Queen Esther did.
In my Esther Bible Study, we discover the people of Esther’s heritage, the Jews, faced tremendous persecution by an evil leader who had the power to annihilate them. Esther was Queen with a divinely-inspired level of influence. She alone could do something to stop the coming madness. She could approach the king and convince him to act.
But fear gripped her.
Bible Study Lessons from the Book of Esther
While she knew she once owned favor from her husband, the king of Persia, he hadn’t called for her in a long while. Had he dismissed her? Esther lived in a long-ago era where women were deemed property and their intuition was utterly disregarded. To approach the king without an invitation—even when she was married to him—could lead to her execution.
Esther wrestled with the decision to get involved. She counted the cost and knew that her decision could lead to dire consequences. Offering surrender was the bravest thing possible: She presented her offering to God, surrendering to the Lord’s will, and uttered one of the most piercing declarations in Scripture:
“If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, HCSB)
In Bible study, we see that—after convincing persuasion by her uncle—Esther refused to let her people face destruction without stepping into action. She weighed the cost of her involvement then made the decision to entrust her life to God himself, knowing He alone could protect her. But first, she called for a fast.
Why did Esther Fast?
Her husband was a fickle king, ruled by his own emotions, and moving to action as his moods determined. As Esther prepared to meet her destiny, she didn’t go alone. She encouraged the Jews to support her by fasting for three days. During a fast, the Jews commonly sought God’s will, His protection, and His involvement. And when it was time to speak out, Esther boldly faced her fears and approached the king.
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Blessings of Surrendering to God
As we discover in the book of Esther Bible study, sharing her news took several tries, but Esther accomplished her task. She revealed the evil plot to the king who made provision for the Jews to protect themselves against attack. Her people were empowered to gain victory in an overwhelming battle.
But what if Esther held her tongue? What if she let anxiety and fear stop her from stepping into service? What if she’d chosen her personal comfort and safety over the protection of her people?
Esther’s uncle, Mordecai shared his great wisdom when he said,
“Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14 HCSB).
It’s true. Had Esther forsaken her calling, the Lord would have protected the Jews another way. But because Esther stepped into service, she experienced the manifold blessings of surrender to God. She witnessed miracle after miracle as God revealed His power and presence.
Finding Courage in God
Through Esther’s story of courage and surrender, we continue to revel in God’s provision over the Jews in Persia today. Through God’s Word, we see . . .
- unexpected, favorable outcome from Esther’s bold step
- our God, Who, even while deafeningly quiet, remains active and present
- God’s orchestration of all things for the good of His people
- good that overcomes evil
- how God uses fully surrendered hearts for His glory
God could have rescued the Jews in countless other ways, but he chose to use His beloved child, Esther—an orphaned woman in an oppressive culture—to accomplish His purpose. He gave Esther a kingdom assignment and she found the courage to accept the challenge.
Applying Lessons from Esther of the Bible
God gives each of us a kingdom assignment. Some seem weighty and are completed in the public eye. Most, however, present themselves as typical, daily tasks accomplished in mundane settings. Each type of call is equally as significant. Every Kingdom assignment is God’s way of using our fully surrendered heart for His glory.
How does the Lord want to use you? (If you don’t know, ask Him!)
What’s holding you back from obedience?
In what ways is God prompting you to surrender to His will?
How will you prepare to step into action for your Kingdom assignment?
May God’s Word strengthen you today,
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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.
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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
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“That’s where they getcha.”
My daughter used the phrase while trying to use a coupon at a store then realizing she needed to buy multiples of an item before the discount became valid.
My husband said it last week when he realized the satellite TV package he purchased didn’t include his favorite sports channels.
The expression came to mind this morning as I considered isolation.
When I have a terrible day (or week, or even longer), I’m tempted to stay home and talk to as few people as possible. I think of some of my Christian friends who seem disposed to criticizing others with words and attitudes. Those, especially, can be the personalities I wish to avoid.
God created us for community, but the enemy often schemes to isolate us from others. He convinces us no one will understand our struggles, or that they will mock or judge us, or misinterpret our motives. Believe me, I’ve fallen for his lies far too often to count.
And that’s where he gets us.
Encouragement to overcome isolation
The Bible is plump with encouragement to connect with others, to operate as the body of Christ where each member has a specific, valuable role and function, and to keep meeting together. Consider these passages, for example:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV).
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).
Connection can help us embrace today’s joy
Based on the verses listed above, we see several blessings of connecting with others. When we “do life” with other people, both inside and outside the wall of our church building, great things begin to happen:
Not only do we receive encouragement, but we’re given the opportunity to encourage others, and that feels even better.
We gain support from others who will help us up when we struggle with temptation or fear or confusion or loneliness or anxiety, or shame. We realize we’re not alone. God’s people walk alongside us, helping us along the way. They can offer wisdom from their own experiences or sound advice that’s not clouded by an emotional connection to the problem.
We fulfill the law of Christ. We begin to live life as He intends—connected with others—and can reap the countless blessings of obedience.
Yes, the gifts and benefits to connection are many, yet even as Christians, we’re prone to withdrawal. We fall victim to the enemy’s whispers that say, “It would be so much easier to stay home today.”
I’ve been there. Many, many times.
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Even when I battle the temptation to isolate, push myself out the door and attend a gathering, I sometimes predetermine our own actions. I think, “I’ll go, but I’m not going to talk to anyone.”
Or worse yet, my intentional efforts to connect come to an abrupt halt when we enter the room to find …
- A chatty sister talks too much and I can’t get a word in edgewise.
- My friend’s problem seems so much weightier than my own so I fall silent.
- Emotions threaten to overtake me and I know if I start talking the tears will come. Who needs that?
- The well-dressed woman across the room starts talking about her perfect family again. As I compare myself to her, I feel she may judge me or my issues. I should just pull myself together too.
I miss the opportunity to share my struggles. Trapped in isolation, I often misjudge the depth of my loneliness and the way it shrouds my joy. I believe I’m being independent but the ache in my heart is heavy.
I’m deceived into thinking I can navigate this life on my own, that I don’t need the fellowship of others.
But that’s a lie. The truth is Jesus prayed that you and I could experience unity with other believers just as He and the Father were unified. Then, the world could see Jesus and the love of the Father. (See John 17:23).
It’s worth the effort to overcome isolation. It not only blesses us individually but also is mutually beneficial for those with whom we engage in Christian fellowship. Without question, connection within the Body of Christ can help us embrace the joy the Lord has for us today.
4 Practical Hints to Overcome Isolation
Here are a few practical (but not always easy) ways to overcome Isolation and embrace today’s joy.
Get online as soon as possible and check out your church calendar. Find an event or two that sounds interesting. Register if you must. Just make plans to attend and then go! Remember that friendships and connections don’t happen instantaneously. They take time, so exercise patience. When new relationships begin to bud and bloom, you’ll soon understand the benefits of connecting, repeatedly and regularly, with other followers of Christ.
I can’t estimate the amount of time I’ve wasted waiting for someone to reach out to me. My heartfelt recommendation: don’t wait for others to initiate a conversation. Start one on your own. Ask questions about the other person. Show genuine interest in who she is. As you wait for a friendship to take root, maintain the attitude that “it’s not about me.” Take initiative and pour yourself into others first.
I find one of the fastest ways to make friends, connect with others and overcome isolation is to serve. Volunteer for a cause, work a booth at an event or sign up to help with a project. There’s something about being a part of a team, rolling up your sleeves alongside one another, and getting to work that quickens familiarity and bonding.
Move beyond your comfort zone
Do that thing you’re afraid to do. Sign up for the women’s retreat even if none of your friends are attending. Share your testimony with your small group. Learn to exercise vulnerability and let others into your life. If you’re afraid that someone will judge you or that if you let people get too close, you’re bound to experience hurt… well, you’re right. At some point, all of us feel the sting of relationships. But let’s not let the fear of heartache keep us from the joy of connectedness. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
Our enemy wants us in isolation because then he can wreak havoc into our lives. God wants us living in connection and unity so that we can bond with other believers, bless one another, and glorify Him. When we work to overcome isolation, it is a sure way to deepen your level of daily joy.
May God’s Word strengthen you today!
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/.