Guest Post by Gina of GinaMPoirier.com
“I just feel like I’ve lost my joy,” she told me one day over coffee and a few tears. “And as a Christian, I feel horrible about that.”
My friend was in the situation many of us find ourselves in: taking care of kids (or something else) and trying to keep our acts together while we’re exhausted, overwhelmed and downright cranky about all. And to top it all off, we feel guilty for not being more joyful.
I wish I could have told her the magic formula, something like prayer + Bible study = joy. And there have certainly been times when I have naively thought it should be that simple.
But in response I simply gave her a hug and maybe cried a little myself. Because in truth, life is hard. Joy isn’t always an automatic response just because you’re a Christian.
Yet on the other hand, the Bible does instruct us to rejoice always, in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I mean really, God? (He says yes, really.)
So how, exactly, do we have more joy, even when life is really, really tough?
I’ll try to handle this carefully, since I truly don’t think there’s a formula. But here are a few things I like to remember that help my own heart feel more joy when the circumstances bring anything but.
1. Look to Jesus
I don’t know about you, but a lot of times when I’m dealing with my not-so-joyful emotions I fall into a thought pattern that goes something like this: this is too hard, and nobody understands what I’m going through.
That’s one of the hardest things about pain and suffering: sometimes it does make you feel isolated. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” But the good news is that there is actually one person who does “get it.”
Hebrews 4:14–16 say that Jesus empathizes with our weaknesses and was tempted in every way we are. And as our friend he gets us and is there for us, and wants to show us the way through our pain (John 15:15).
So in other words, take your pain to Jesus. Pray to him; confess your weaknesses and ask for help. Study his life and his words, that it may increase your faith (Romans 10:17). Sing to him. Meditate on his promises.
Having said that, God is not a genie and doesn’t magically turn your emotions off and on whenever you ask. But I believe he’s the way I must turn when I’m hurting, if I want to heal.
2. Fill Your Mind with Truth
I’m fascinated with the human brain, and I’m even more fascinated by the fact that the Bible supports a lot of what modern psychology has discovered. In particular, we have the power to change the structure of our brains by redirecting our thoughts.
If you’re in the habit of negativity and toxic thinking, your thought patterns will continue down those well-trodden paths (you literally can get into “ruts.”) But if you are more conscious about what you’re putting your mind to, you will change the way you think.
Scripture supports this (Philippians 4:8, for starters), and Brittany has some great suggestions here: Want to Take Every Thought Captive? It’s Easier Than You Think!
I’ve found that copying Bible verses and memorizing them is a way to keep my mind focused on what is true. (Want some suggestions? Check out the printables I offer.)
Another way to fill your mind with truth is through habitual gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is a scientifically supported, biblical way to rewire your brain for joy.
3. Reach Out for Help
When I think of some of the toughest times in my life, I don’t know how I would have gotten through without the support of the body of Christ. And few things make me smile more than thinking about those who have been there for me when I’ve needed them.
When a part of your physical body gets hurt, other parts of it provide healing by delivering the oxygen and immune support it needs. It’s the same way in the church (1 Corinthians 12:21–26). We need each other through good times and bad, to help us heal and grow through our trials and weaknesses.
I’m guilty of being extremely independent through my pain and struggles, as I think a lot of us are. We come to the church putting our best foot forward, when it should be the other way around.
I’m not saying you should go to worship service a weeping mess all the time, but I challenge you to be bold in your vulnerability. Meet with mentors and peers who can cry with you over coffee, watch your kids so you can rest, celebrate your victories and pray with you through your trials. And if you don’t have these people in your life, go find them. Pray for God to lead you to them.
4. Let the Holy Spirit Do His Work
It occurred to me recently as I was thinking about this that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Here’s the thing about fruit: it doesn’t appear magically. It takes time and cultivation.
Jesus is the vine, the Father is the Gardener and we are the branches that bear fruit through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 15:1–8). There have been times when I’ve been impatient and even felt guilty because the joy simply wasn’t there when I thought it should be.
But if joy is like fruit, then that means that it will take time to grow into maturity. It will be more plentiful in some seasons than others. And at times we need to be pruned in order to produce more.
We may not fully understand this process, but we don’t have to. All we have to do is stay in the vine (the steps listed above are some practical ways that help with this), and God will grow the fruit.
I don’t know what your circumstances are, but I do know what the Bible says about working through them. And I believe that given time, you’ll find the joy that God calls us all to.
Article Credit: equippinggodlywomen.com
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If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
II Timothy 2:12 NKJV
Soldiers in the Roman army identified themselves with their generals by adding the suffix -ian at the end of the general’s name. Therefore, a Caesarian soldier would be a solider serving under Caesar. In Latin, the word ian means “the party of.” In the early church in Antioch, people began to call followers of Christ Christians, though the use of the name was likely said at first in the spirit of mockery. However, the name stuck and soon believers also began to call themselves Christians, happily adding the suffix to the end of Christ’s name to indicate that they were with Jesus. Early Christians joyfully sent a message to the world that they were followers of Christ, though the message cost many of them their lives. A believer’s life begins at the altar where we surrender our nothing for everything, and sometimes ends on another altar, where believers are forced to decide whether to sacrifice everything for nothing. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV).
If you knew that openly announcing to the world that you are a Christian would cost you your job, your standing in the community, or your very life, would you call yourself a Christian?
Article Credit: Linda Kozar by way of Dayspring.com
Hello Dear Friends,
Such great encouragement this day!!
10 Prayers to Pray Over Your Husband
Sep 3, 2017 by Rachel Wojo
Do you spend time each day praying for your husband? Determining what prayers to pray over your husband can be an eye-opening experience. Years ago, I decided to consistently pray for my husband. While that sounds really mature and wonderful, the choice was a selfish endeavor, though I thought I was being helpful. In my immaturity, I wanted a few things to change in my marriage and so I called on the Lord to change them. Funny how I discovered the one who needed to change was ME! Ever been there?
Through God’s work in my heart, I discovered the importance of praying for my husband and the power of praying for him. Over the years, God has shown me his work in my marriage through prayer time and time again. Prayer is a life-changing, uninterrupted connection to our heavenly Father and oh how he loves to hear his children pray! Check out these 10 prayers to pray over your husband using God’s Word.
- Pray for his work.
“Lord, I pray that You would bless my husband’s work. That he would be diligent and prosperous. That You would give him wisdom and discernment. God, I pray You would give him strength to walk the opportunities you provide. Thank you, Lord.”
Do you see a person skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. He will not stand in the presence of the unknown. Proverbs 22:29 CSB
- Pray for his heart, soul, and mind.
“Father, I praise You for my husband, Your unique creation. Please guard his heart and mind, Jesus. Protect him from temptation and fill him up with the good things he needs. You’ve promised to fill his soul with what he needs and I ask You to do just that.”
For he has satisfied the thirsty and filled the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9 CSB
- Pray for healing from the past.
“God, would You heal the wounds of my husband’s heart? You’ve promised healing to those who submit to You. Lord, please smooth the scars of past hurts and brokenness. May Your healing permeate his being, inside and out.”
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14 CSB
- Pray for courage.
“Lord, You are gracious and merciful, yet You are all-powerful and understanding. This world can be a fearful place and I pray that You would give my husband courage. Lord, infuse his character with courage for daily decisions and the difficult ones as well.”
The fear of the Lord leads to life; one will sleep at night without danger. Proverbs 19:23 CSB
- Pray for his leadership.
“God, You have provided Your Word and I am so grateful. May Your Word guide my husband as the leader of our home. May his leadership skills be empowered by your wisdom. I trust that You will lead in his hand and heart in our relationship, his work, our home, community and church.”
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. James 1:5 CSB
- Pray for wisdom in finances.
“Lord, money yields the greatest potential to cause problems in a home. Please give my husband wisdom as he seeks to honor You with finances. I praise You for the blessings You’ve provided and I pray that You would help him, help us, to always honor You first.”
Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. Hebrews 13:5 CSB
- Pray for a heart for the Lord.
“Father, please give my husband a pure heart for You. May he seek to love You and trust You with everything he has and is. Protect him from opinions intended to sway him from Your Word.”
Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Ephesians 6:6 CSB
- Pray for his speech.
“Father, in a day when the world speaks with complete corruption, keep my husband’s words pure before You. I pray that he would use his words just as You would have him to. I praise You for his personality and pray for purposeful conversations in our marriage.”
No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 CSB
- Pray for his friendships.
“Lord, I pray that You would provide encouraging friendships for my husband. That he would know he is never alone because You are with him, but I ask for others to speak into his life and sharpen him as he sharpens them.”
Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 CSB
- Pray for your husband to be a good father.
“God, I thank You that You are the good, good Father. Would you help my husband’s parenting to reflect You? May his children know Your heavenly love personally and experience it through their earthly father.”
Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 CSB
This list of 10 Scripture-based prayers is a perfect place to start exploring how to pray for your husband. If you know someone struggling or feeling disconnected in their marriage, share these powerful prayers with them and use this article to encourage their hearts. If you know someone who longs to strengthen her marriage and build up her husband,these prayers would be the perfect tool to do so!
Visual reminders of my praying intentions are always a bonus and if that’s you too, check out the You + Me gift collection for beautiful inspiration to pray for your husband. This collection, inspired by The 5 Love Languages, comes with sticky prayers, couples’ coupon book, correspondent cards, and love notes. You could also take your prayer encouragement another step by giving your husband one of these beautiful “You’ve been prayed for…” cards.
Article credit: Dayspring.com
Life is full of choices, isn’t it? One of the hardest choices for me personally is choosing my response in stressful situations. And the situations that seem the most difficult? Family matters. Ah yes, you know what I’m talking about? Aunt Susie and Uncle Billy enjoy a wonderful marriage, but all the sudden, on a holiday weekend when the entire family is finally together, they choose to argue and complain to one another loudly in front of everyone. The underlying tension that results is thick enough to cut. Or maybe all the children of the extended family are running around together when one of them suddenly takes a tumble and tears flow. One after another, toddlers melt down and preschoolers throw tantrums. Maybe your family doesn’t have these moments because long ago, two sisters decided they no longer would speak to each other. So rather than stemming from reactions within the family, stress results from having zero interaction with one another.
Regardless of your personal family circumstances, whether health problems, differences of opinion, or distressing issues, finding peace in the face of family stress is challenging. How can we discover harmony within our families in stressful times? Check out these practical and inspiring ideas!
1. Choose a light-hearted approach when possible.
When I was growing up, my parents often hosted missionaries and ministry workers of all kinds. There were no restaurants in our small town and folks had to eat somewhere. One day, the visiting missionary’s son spilled his entire glass of milk at our dinner table in a typical child-like fumble. His parents looked ready to crawl under the table, but with nine kids of his own, my dad just continued passing the potatoes. In a quiet voice, he said “That’s never happened here before.” Then he glanced up at the missionaries and everyone began to laugh. Whenever family bumps occur, a little laughter can go a long way.
2. Remember that time together is precious.
Learning to overlook oddities or parts of family relationships we don’t appreciate is much easier when we keep them in perspective. See your family often? Treasure the memories you are making. Family living all over the country? Enjoy those cramped moments of sleeping in odd spaces and eating in tight places. In the face of stress, embrace the time you have because time is not a commodity we can purchase.
3. Build in quiet moments during family time.
Regardless of the family size or family member ages, one simple way to enjoy a calm family conversation moment is to ask each person to say one thing they appreciate or admire about the person to their right. Moving a conversation around the table in this fashion brings a sweetness to spirits.
4. Recognize that the best peace comes from the Lord.
Psalm 147:13-14 ESV reminds us how the Lord provides:
For He strengthens the bars of your gates; He blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; He fills you with the finest of the wheat.
Reading the above verse in the face of family stress or saying a short prayer asking for peace is a beautiful way to approach burdens or worries that threaten to steal the joy of family. When we choose to face the challenges with the thoughts above, a peaceful perspective results! Trusting the Lord to provide “impossible peace” results in incomprehensible peace. As Isaiah reminded his people:
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3ESV
Devotional credit: Dayspring.com