Tag Archive | joy

Circumstances: The Harsh Dictator of Our Emotions

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I take a one-word prompt and write, unedited, for 10 minutes and see what happens. Today’s prompt is the word “unhappy.”

A quick Google search of “God wants me to be happy” yielded several articles—more than I wanted to take the time to read—about how God really does want us to be happy. But one interesting thing I came away with in my perusal is that holiness and happiness aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, the closer to God you become, the happier you will be.

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Now, the problem with many is that how they are defining “happy” seems to put it on a very temporary or shallow level. The Bible doesn’t seem to differentiate. Gladness, laughter, singing, they all seem to be wrapped up together. We rejoice in the Lord always.

So what’s going on when we feel unhappy? Are we disappointed in God, or are we disappointed in our circumstances? I can be unhappy that the store I traveled to was out of the item I wanted. (Should have called first. Always. Should have called.) I can be unhappy that someone ate the last piece of chocolate cake, even if I had called it, albeit not within the hearing of everyone in the room.

Those are circumstances that I can easily get over. But what happens when I find myself in a place I really don’t want to be? What if a job change causes me to have to live far away from everyone I know and love? What if the only job I could get is one of drudgery and stress?

If I suffer from clinical depression, does that put me out of God’s will since He commands us to “rejoice in the Lord always”? (Philippians 4:4).

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Being unhappy with our circumstances is a normal experience. Denying that we feel unhappy is simply sweeping our emotions under the rug. The key is not living in that state of unhappiness. I acknowledge that a particular situation is not what I wanted or expected, but I trust that God was not taken by surprise. He will use my circumstances for my good and His glory. But I need to let Him work.

I’m grateful that I have not suffered from clinical depression, but I know that those who do are helped by medication, and that they can find that the joy of the Lord is their strength. He holds them up, He never leaves them, He understands.

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, which in this season leading up to Easter will be examined by many a preacher, was not “happy,” but His relationship with the Father meant that He was loved and not abandoned. He was about to face a cruel and agonizing death. But He also knew that Resurrection would follow.

 

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Where Else Is There To Go?

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. I write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. No heavy editing. I just see where it takes me. Today’s prompt is “where.”

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In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, we are told the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. There were actually more than that, because that was just the number of men. Amazing story. Truly incredible.

The very next story is about Jesus walking on the water. Wow. OK, so that’s pretty awesome.

After that, we are told of the hard things that Jesus told the crowd, and then things He said to His disciples alone. These things were so difficult, that John records “After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (6:66).

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How heartbreaking that must have been for Jesus. They had just seen what He had done. In the next couple of verses, this conversation takes place: So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’” (6:67-68).

In other words, “Where else is there to go?” Jesus had said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one could come to the Father except through Him. He was the bread of life. He was the living water. No one else had made the claims He had. No one else was offering eternal life.

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It was either walking with Jesus and having life and joy, or walking away into eternal sorrow.

Choose life and joy.

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Sweet Surprise

secret_surprise_2For my 30th birthday, my husband threw me a surprise party. We went out to dinner and were just planning on going home and hanging out. This was before we had kids, just 9 months after we had gotten married and 4 months after we had moved to Florida from my home state of California. Needless to say, my stress level was very high, even though some of those events were good ones. Like the getting married part.

When we got to our apartment, I was met with a sweet group of friends all gathered to celebrate my day. It was truly a surprise, which is often hard to pull off, and a lovely reminder of how much I am loved.

Those kinds of surprises are great. Others, not so much. Like when your favored team loses to a major underdog in the surprise performance of the century (looking at you Virginia). I don’t like those kinds of surprises.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book back in 1955 titled Surprised by Joy, which tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. Although he says it’s much less a chronology of events than it is a look at his life as only C.S. Lewis can tell it.

Surprise. Something unexpected.

I remember when my kids were little and I wanted them to keep a secret about secretsomething, like a gift for someone, I would tell them it was going to be a surprise rather than a secret, because I wanted to ensure that they didn’t keep secrets. I knew the stories of abuse that have happened with a relative who would tell a vulnerable child that this behavior would be their secret. They weren’t ever to keep secrets from us.

But surprises are meant to be fun. I like to think of them as good. I think that’s what Lewis found as he came up with the name for his book. He was an atheist. He didn’t know what he would find when he turned back to God. Joy was unexpected.

In some cases, we may wonder why we are surprised at the things God does. We ask Him joyto provide, and He does it. Sometimes it’s not in the way we expect, so we can call that a surprise, but not the fact that He does it.

It’s not the same as being startled.

It’s different than being shocked.

Some people don’t like surprises, and if I had to guess, I would say that it’s because it takes a modicum of control away from them. Just tell me what’s going to happen already. I want to know what to expect.

But that’s where trust comes in.

I’m not in charge, and if I allow myself to be surprised, I might just be blessed by a God who wants to give me all good things.

Like C.S. Lewis and joy.

 

images from tonnerdoll.com; nameberry.com; crosswalk.com

Did I Leave Anything Out?

Our bags are nearly packed, except for the essentials; 24 hours until we hit the road. We’ve taken great care to make lists and ensure that we have everything we’ll need for a month on the road. But it occurred to me that there are some pretty important things that didn’t necessarily make the list, but God forbid that they be left behind.

Love: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

We’re going to be encountering a lot of people in the next month, and we can leave an impression all across the nation. What kind of impression we leave is completely up to us. We can show that we love each other and are so happy to have this time together. Or we can act like these are the last people on earth with whom we’d want to spend a month traveling. I vote for the former. That’s only going to come by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song” (Psalm 28:7).

So many times we try to find joy in our circumstances, but that doesn’t work very well. Many times, our circumstances aren’t exactly what we want them to be. Our joy has got to come from the Lord. If we find that truth, there will be more laughing than bickering along the way.

Peace: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

In my mind, peace is the opposite of war. War often comes because someone else has something that we want. Maybe it comes from fear that we won’t end up with all we need. Resting in the fact that God has given us all that we need will bring peace to our hearts–and to our journey.

Patience: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

This is a biggie. It’s like forgetting your toothbrush if you leave this one behind. Nothing feels right. We must overlook the accidentally kicked seat or whatever other minor irritation would cause us to focus on our circumstances and not on the Lord.

Kindness: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

The watchword around our house lately has been “kindness.” Show kindness whenever you have a chance. Say kind words, do kind deeds. That will become even more important as we spend hours on end in a minivan. But how good and pleasant it will be.

Goodness: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

This characteristic speaks to me of being Christ-like. The hackneyed “what would Jesus do” should always be evident in our lives. It’s not just about doing the right thing; it’s about being the right person–the one God wants you to be.

Faithfulness: “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth” (3 John 1:3).

This is about doing what God wants us to do, and always following through. It’s about showing good faith. Be a person of your word.

Gentleness: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Boys will be boys, but a spirit of gentleness will avoid a lot of pain, especially to one’s little sister.

Self-control: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

‘Nuff said. Keep control of yourself. Don’t react. Be proactive to make sure that your heart and your mind are constantly fixed on Jesus.

The fruit of the Spirit. I can pack all the underwear I want, but if I forget to keep the Holy Spirit in charge of my life, then nothing else I’ve packed will do me any good.

Thankful today for:

420: the opportunity to host another baptism

421. the generosity of friends

422. google maps

423. reliable cell phone service

424. the two upcoming weddings in the family

425. good, clean family movies

Would You Be Your Friend?

Are you someone you like to hang out with? If you had a choice, would you be your own friend? Do you like who you are? Do you enjoy your own company?

Have you ever looked at yourself from someone else’s eyes? Do they see someone who displays the fruit of the Spirit?

Love: unselfish, putting others first, not jealous, keeping no record of wrong

Joy: not grouchy and discontent: radiating happiness that transcends circumstances

Peace: unflustered, unfazed by what’s going on around you, trusting in God beyond what the circumstances might seem to dictate

Patience: peacefully waiting for God to move, knowing that He’s got things under control

Kindness: caring deeply about others and expressing that to them

Goodness: displaying the character of Christ, godliness; striving to always do the right thing

Faithfulness: displaying an unwavering faith in God and not straying from your walk with Him

Gentleness: not harsh, having a soft hand and voice when it comes to dealing with others, no matter their attitude

Self-control: not reacting to or following along with other’s bad behavior; not being erratic so that people don’t know what to expect from you

Doesn’t that just seem like a person you want to hang out with? I know I’d sure like to have that friend.

Guess that means I should work on being that friend.

Thankful today for:

102. brownies baking in the oven

103. 80 degree weather with only 31 percent humidty

104. a change in plans