At some point on my life journey I forgot about joy. A couple of years ago I battled severe depression and thoughts of suicide. When I finally came out of that dark time I was changed. I’m seeing the world with new eyes. I realize how much angst I had been holding onto in life. There is always trouble, always an excuse to stifle joy. Or so it seemed. My perspective has changed. I would like to encourage you too.
What if no matter how our children are behaving, how our marriage is surviving, who is running for president, or the general state of mankind in the world—if we realized we can be grateful, thankful, joyful? No matter what?
Should I wring my hands, shake my head, and give up on the state of life? What if the barren desert and cacti that I see in my life are the very places where flowers can blossom? There will always be trouble but what if there is always cause for joy too?
“There will always be trouble but what if there is always cause for joy too?”
I recently spoke to a room full of women about the concept of joy. My title was “Finding joy in the middle of horrible, no good, very bad times.” I stole the funny title idea from the name of a popular adolescent book. Even though I was speaking about some very serious things to the women I wanted to keep it “edible” and sometimes humorous. Life at times is a wild ride, but there is humor, love, and beauty in life too.
At one point in my talk I showed a picture of a barrel cactus with a pink flower in full bloom on top. I said, “I look at this cactus and think, ‘I would not have thought to put a flower there.’ ” Some of the women laughed. I added, “But God saw it as the perfect place to put a flower.” Sometimes all we can see is a desert. We need God’s eyes to see all the possibilities of spring in the desert, to see joy.
I used to go through life like this:
Survive difficult time
Take a deep breath
Ready myself for the next difficulty
(I would also let God know I had learned valuable lessons already and maybe, please could I have some rest time in my life?)
I was in survival mode.
Yes, trials are still inevitable, but I’m living life different now. I’m trying to soak in every bit of joy, little or big, in order to train myself to see the good no matter what is going on. I’m not bracing for the next bad thing. I’m enjoying today, praising God for today.
In order to live joyful it helps to believe or to be reminded of some things first:
Know you are loved.
And I pray that you…grasp how WIDE & LONG and HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17b-18.
God is bigger than your problems.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Trouble is temporary.
So you have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Then you will rejoice and no one can rob you of that joy. John 16:22
Ask for joy.
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 (This is actually a blessing. You can pray it for yourself, but try praying it for someone else too).
I pray today you are encouraged to let the joy of God fill your heart. I pray for a glimpse of hope to bring the seeds of joy that will surely sprout.
Today we can be brave, and we can be joyful. Live this life beautifully. THRIVE!
Tina D. Stephens
Author of “The Common Hours” available now on Amazon.com