Challenged? Focus on this.
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When you are running on empty, and wondering where the light of day is . . .
When you feel beaten down, and trying to remember when you weren't . . .
When you know it is possible, but can't quite get it . . .
When you are so tired, you have nothing left to give, what can you do?
Or maybe none of those are you right now, but you lack the joie de vivre, joy of living, how can you get it?
I found the solution.
Why was I looking for a solution? Absolutely drained on every level this past week, I found myself thinking about choosing joy again. Physical fatigue is one thing, but add stress or emotional strain as well, and it is a recipe for feeling deflated, possibly defeated, and just plain void. The question: how does one choose joy when there is little energy - either mental, emotional or spiritual - to do so?
You see, I actually believe what I wrote in the series on Choosing Joy ...
that joy is a choice we make.
And like Nehemiah, I firmly believe
the joy of the Lord is our strength! Nehemiah 8.10
Here's what I've noticed, no matter how depleted I am, there are several things I can do that move me to thinking better thoughts.
First, I mindfully choose to give God thanks. Lying awake, consumed by anxious thinking about how things might ever possibly work out, look up, or change, I can thank God for who he is - a good, righteous, loving and just God. David said it so beautifully,
"How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!" 2 Samuel 7.22 I thank God that he is my God and I am his child.
Then I recall God's faithfulness - that is to say, I mindfully thank God for how he has been faithful to me, looking back at the past. I remember a young man, Bryson, junior in high school and in my Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at San Clemente High School - he was so grateful for God's faithfulness to him that he had 2 Timothy 2.13 tattooed on his arm! Why? Paul said it,
"If we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself." What a powerful truth!
Faithful is who God is, and he is faithful to us. We can count on it.
I mindfully look around and begin to thank God for the little things and the big things ~ Heaven, health, hope, hummingbirds, the Holy Spirit! Friends, family, flowers, freedom. The beauty in a sunrise, the glory in a sunset, the eternal hope and promise of forever with him ~ all of these things and so many more, like food, clothing, shelter, clean water . . . remind me that I have so much for which to thank my Father in Heaven. Note: I am not merely practicing gratitude, sending it out into the universe, which may be a nice thing to do, but I am expressing thanks to a person, God, which is totally different; it is a relational action. I recognize him as the Source of all that is good, right, loving, just and holy. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." So wrote the half-brother of Jesus, James 1.17.
Here's something else: when joy challenged, try looking for someone to help, even in a small way . . . someone to whom you can extend a kind word. Indeed, look up - look out - look around, engage the world around you by making it kinder, friendlier.
Finally, mindfully, willfully go after what David captured in Psalm 16.11, when he wrote, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Close your eyes, wherever you are - talk to God, get in his presence. It will renew and strengthen you. Ask him to restore to you the joy of your salvation. Psalm 51.12
Joy is not an emotion, it is a deep-seated contentment within because of our God who is faithful and lovingly holds us in the palm of his hand.
Challenged? Check your focus.
Choose Joy #7