I get disappointed with myself.
Whenever I wake up depressed, slumpy, or sad about my life, I typically start aligning my brain and heart with a scolding: Laurie, you have a home, job, running water, family, food and clothing. Others around the world are living in poverty, living as victims of war, or living under the tyranny of a dictator wondering if they are going to be alive at the end of the day.
What is your problem?
The problem with my scolding is my starting point. Comparison is not the place to start. Though my statements may be true about the blessings of my life on any given day, my joy is to never be rooted in fickle, ever-changing circumstances. I could be poor or find myself in a war fearing for my life tomorrow. What then?
Our joy must flow from the life and presence of our Savior Jesus Christ who is fully accessible to everyone in the entire world today, including the poor, immigrants, and citizens of war-torn countries. Yes, the joy of the Lord exists apart from happy circumstances. I learned this week about a pregnant woman who walked 1500 miles with her family to the U.S. border. Upon arrival, they were wearing the same clothes they have been wearing for three months. Through a series of miraculous events, the woman and her family made it to a home in the U.S. this week. I can’t imagine what is must have been like to take a hot shower, slide into a soft bed in a safe place, and fall asleep knowing she has a visa in hand and can stay for a while. How did she make through the journey?
The joy of Jesus was her strength.
Circumstances were not joyful, but this pregnant woman openly prayed her way through the journey with her family. She watched doors open in front of her, watched paths close behind her, watched people decide to be kind, and felt the hand of God upon her life. Jesus was her strength and gave her the ability to keep breathing, trusting and walking forward. She lived miracles.
Where is my joy coming from?
I was visiting with a friend this past Friday. As we strolled in a town square filled with restaurants and stores that sold items and food for the wealthy, we also passed many homeless individuals. I paused at one point and attempted to process a scene of posh boutiques sharing a sidewalk sprinkled with people on benches, each surrounded by all of their earthly possessions.
Very odd juxtaposition.
Somewhere in this mix, I was reminded that our joy cannot come from the provision of shelter and food and shops. Though thankful for our luxuries of a home, running water and employment, they may be tricking us into believing we have a false sense of power. Our luxuries may also be tempting us to find joy in our circumstances instead of the Savior.
Joy can only be found in Jesus.
Do I get out of bed already joyful because I am going to heaven? I come up short on that answer.
When Jesus sent 72 disciples out and they returned excited about their experiences. Jesus was quick to remind them that they were rejoicing in the wrong things. As grand as their experiences were, they were to rejoice that their names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
Check our hearts.
Do you need to pray Psalm 51:12 with me? Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12) Be joyful today because Jesus came and found you; someone told you about Jesus; your life is linked to eternal bliss and you have the message of hope on your lips to all who know you. Catch your thoughts when you are sad, or when you don’t have the house or job you want, or that this week was hard. Each may be true, but let’s make sure that especially this month as we wait for Christmas morn, that
We rejoice in the joy of our salvation.
Picture Explanation: Little moments of happiness on earth. May your life be filled with them.
Speaking of living with the joy of our salvation and sharing with others: If you are interested in being contacted to participate in a One Gritty Blink Bible study, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and send me an email so I can place you on a list to be contacted as online and face-to-face studies are planned. Let’s not just focus on things in this short life, but also what counts for eternity!
Note: No part of my posts are derived from A.I. Thoughts and writing stem from my mind and heart as I process life week-by-week and continue to grow in my understanding of God and how to apply His wisdom to the world around me.
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