If we could peek into a journal of our weekly ups and downs, we might read something like this ~
It’s been a cloudy week – dark, cold and dreary. My joy-level wanes.
It’s sunny and warm. We have a fun event coming up and I’m excited! My joy-level soars.
Money is tight and relationships are strained. My joy is struggling.
I lost three pounds, my cat returned after being gone a week, and I got a raise! My joy is overflowing!
Can you relate? Me too.
For many, this is how happiness fluctuates. It’s based on happenings, but as believers, we have a reason for joy in each day, simply because we know Christ. He gives purpose and an inner joy that nothing in this world could give or take away. Joy isn’t based on our circumstances – it’s a settled contentment based on our great God and our confidence in Him. Knowing Christ as our Savior doesn’t negate trials in our lives, but He gives us a lens through which we can see that each difficulty is a part of our story He has written for His ultimate glory. Knowing there is a purpose helps us to endure under His care.
As we look closely into the life of Ruth, we remember that there were plenty of things in her life that could have cause her despair (widowhood, poverty, being a foreigner), but that’s not how she lived out her life! I see joy in her face and I hear it in her voice in the pages of Scripture – even during the most sorrowful times of her life. Here are ten points we see in Ruth that I think we could emulate and experience even during the hardest days.
- Let go of the past and recognize God’s blessings today. Don’t live in the regrets of yesterday. Instead, realize that today is a new day with new opportunities to watch God work, provide and use you!
- Change the things you can change, and let God handle the rest. You may need to remove yourself from the influence of ungodly friends and attach yourself to people who will push you closer to the Lord. You may need to stop a habit or start a new one. If you’re not in a church that preaches the Word of God, get out and find a place where you can grow. Don’t stay stuck in things that suppress your joy as you walk with God. If you’re in a marriage relationship that is hard, you obviously need to honor your vows, but you can change your heart and attitude by asking God to give you a sacrificial love for your spouse. Maybe it’s an attitude that needs to change by the grace of God.
- Bring someone with you when you’re lonely. When your heart is down, don’t go it alone! Call someone who can help you think right. Get together for coffee or go on a walk together. Can’t you see Ruth and Naomi talking and sharing life together? Two are better than one!
- Gather the good Grain. Work hard physically and spiritually. Gather the Grain of God’s Word by ~
Doing it Daily
Go to a quiet place
Focus on it
Keep it with you by writing down what God says to you.
Thresh it – Make the application to your life.
Be nourished – Watch the growth that will come from it
- Learn to be generous. Stingy people aren’t happy. What do you have that you can share with others? Your home? A meal? A cup of coffee? A listening ear? Help? Do it! It will be a greater blessing to you than it was to them!
- Listen and submit to wise, godly counsel. That might include your husband, your pastor, the elders in your church, or a friend who walks with God.
- Be still and trust a sovereign God. There is enough grace for TODAY. Don’t try to figure a way out of your circumstances. Pray and let God do His work in His time.
- Serve as though it’s your last opportunity to do so. One day it will be! What would you do today if you knew it was your last day? Is there someone with whom you would share the Gospel? Is there someone to whom you need to ask forgiveness? What service would you do for the Lord if this was your last day? Get after it!
- Let your eyes look for Christ and your life point to Christ. Living in the reality of His presence will change our perspective! Live so other see Jesus in you.
- Look for every little kindness and ask, “Why me?” Look at every hardship and ask, “Why not me?” We deserve hell, but God’s kindness is so lavished out on us daily! Live with the gratitude that says, “Why me?” The hard things we experience here are the hardest things we’ll ever experience. Eternity will be sinless perfection! It puts our trials into perspective, doesn’t it?
Which of these ten points resonates in your heart as something you need to ask God to help you implement? I encourage you to stop now and ask Him to help you so you can live out, not necessarily a happy life, but one that has joy deep at its core.
Refresh your life with God’s joy!