Pastor Joshua recently preached a sermon called “Joy No Matter What”, but what happens when the circumstances around you are bringing you down? What happens when all you can see in your view is more likely to bring you down than lift you up? A few months ago, I found myself in similar circumstances. I wasn’t feeling joy and if I looked around what I saw was rather bleak than “happy and joyful”.
One day, I found myself trudged in circumstances that felt rather dark. I looked all around me and realized that if I didn’t grab onto something soon, it was all going to look…rather dark.
So what did I do? At first, I just cried….and then I cried some more…I think I might have even yelled a few times, but then I took a good hard look at what was playing out in my life. I realized that I was letting my circumstances dictate my feelings. When in actuality, I had faith that God was with me, so why not base my feeling on that? Why not base my feelings on the reality that God was with me day in and day out, that He promised in Hebrews 5:11 that He would never leave me. Base my feelings on the reality that He was not leaving me alone in our circumstances. I began to pray that He would help me to see Him all around me. I began to notice Him (which I tried to blame on coincidence at first!) in a sunset. In the way my son’s hands felt in mine. In the color of the leaves changing against a blue sky. I noticed these things and as I began to realize that it was God showing Himself to me, I tried to pause and revel in the moment and feel His nearness; I called them “my pockets of happiness”. I began to realize for myself that I could not trudge in bleakness if I believed that God was my rock and that I stood on him, so I literally took time each morning to try to shift my focus. I was quick to pray “Help me to feel You are near”, but slow to physically focus on Him being near. In the book of Phillipians, Paul tells us we have to choose joy. It is a choice for us to choose it. I did not feel joyful, but I chose in that moment to choose it. I sought after it. I chose to see God working out my life according to His plan. I chose to trust Him in the small and big things. I chose to believe that He was working it all out for His glory. I chose to trust and chose to have joy, even though at the time it still seemed bleak. Phillipians 4:6 (NLT) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” I trudged on. Standing firmly on the rock that He was there, seeking Him constantly to guide my way, focusing on Him. I felt His joy at my core, I felt peace in knowing that He was there. Circumstances began to fade away and the reality of Him there took precedence. Is it always easy? NO! Is it always a picture perfect Hallmark commercial? Of course not! There are tears, there is sweat equity, there are cries that come from deep within; but there is a JOY that radiates from within. There is a boulder that I choose to stand on that radiates Joy in my life. It is a firm foundation.