|Posted on April 4, 2018 at 4:05 PM|
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, one of the hallmarks of being a Christian. Many of us, however, struggle with a chronic lack of joy because of the troubles in our lives.
Remember that joy, unlike happiness, should not be dependent on our circumstances. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and, in fact, one of the names of Holy Spirit is “Oil of Joy”. I have often wondered myself, at times, why I seemed particularly devoid of this particular fruit of the Holy Spirit. As believers in Christ, his joy is our strength. Without joy we are weak.
If we need to be strong, then we must renew our joy of the Lord. It is possible to recover the joy of the Lord even in the most dire of circumstances through practicing the art of thanksgiving. When we consciously choose to bring to mind what God has done in our lives and the people and things for whom and for which we can be thankful, the joy in our souls will start to rise.
Thankfulness should be a Christian discipline that is constantly a part of our prayer time and a part of our lives. Being thankful draws our attention back to the goodness of God, for every good gift comes from him. The rough periods of my life have taught me to be thankful for all things, great and small. The loss of money has caused me to be thankful for every dollar I have, for my medical insurance, and for the roof over my head and the food on my table. The loss of friends has prompted me to nurture the friendships and thank God for the people I do have in my life.
Rather than storing up my thanksgiving for my prayer time, I have learned to thank God throughout the day. The first page in my prayer journal has a picture of my children on it and a list of all of the things God has done in my life. When I feel my joy slipping away, I call to mind all God has done. The story of the five loaves and two fishes is included in all of the gospels. Rather than focusing on the lack of food, Jesus simply thanked God and trusted him to do the rest.
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Mark 6:38-43
The lesson in this story is that thankfulness can unleash the power of God in our lives. No matter how hopeless your situation seems, I urge you to step back from your circumstances and take a closer look at the blessings that you have in your life. Those blessings could be your children, your friends, your parents, finances, your health, your safety, your salvation, etc. Start thanking God for what he has done and watch your joy arise and, with it, your strength!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4
-Pastor Sherri Falco