Monday, August 1, 2011

True Unconditional Joy

                                                                                   {Written by Bethany Ann}
Sometimes it feels as if the only times I am truly "happy" is when I get what I want. Joyful days to me are days were I get to get a special book at the library or when I get to buy something new. Such days are when I receive a letter or get a treat. But what about those days were there is no letter and no treat or those when you didn't get to purchase that stationary that you really wanted or the library book was already checked out? What about those days? Am I truly happy then? I have been learning recently how true unconditional joy does not come from material or conditional things such as getting to go to a friends house or getting to eat out. These things are not worthy of determining our attitude since they are subject to change at any given moment. I cannot let the day and what it brings, determine whether or not I will serve the Lord with a joyful heart because they are not set in stone.
     I have also been learning the important of being joyful in hard times and difficult situations. It's easy to be joyful when I get what I wanted or even when I didn't get what I wanted, but it's hard to be joyful when your mother loses a baby or when you dad loses his job or when a someone dies. These are the times when we must have faith to do as Nehemiah 8:10 tells us: "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." When hard times come I try and find something to be thankful for. When my mother loses a baby I thank God for the siblings I have now. when my dad loses his job I thank God for using this to show how he can provide for us. When two of our three puppies died I thanked God for the time we had with them and for the one puppy who is still here. It's all about how you look at it. Humans are prone to instantly dwell on the bad side of everything but when we look at the bright side it makes it much more bearable.

     I have just finished reading Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place {review coming in the next book review post!}. One of the parts of the book that really stood out and stuck with me is when Corrie and her sister Betsy were placed in a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home. When they arrived they found that their area was completely flea infested. It was not long before their bodies was covered in flea bites and hurting. But one day Betsy reminded Corrie of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that says to "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." She explained how ALL things included the annoying fleas and she prayed thanking God for them. But Corrie couldn't get herself to thank God for them. Why would fleas be a joy and why could she be thankful for them?

     After a bit of persuading Corrie reluctantly thanked God for them. A few weeks later the girls noticed how there living area was not as guarded than the others they had been at. They had never seen a guard inside their area. They thought is strange, but were thankful for it since they would freely read the Bible aloud to the other women in the camp since there were no guard to stop them. Later they found that the reason why the guards didn't think of coming into the room was because it was full of fleas. Instantly Corrie thought of how she had thanked God for the fleas and now realized the important of thanking Him in all things.                                                                                   This story has made me realize how important it is to be joyful in every situation. For the joy of the Lord truly is our strength and we truly can do all things through Him who gives us strength! Thank you Lord!
     I have often found myself waking up and my first thought is I can't wait for the mail to come!" or "Oh, I can't wait for my computer time!" I realized that when I rejoiced in temporary things I was setting my attitude of whether or not that thing came to pass. If I did get a letter in the mail I was happy, but if I didn't I got grumpy. I realized that instead of focusing on temporary thing I needed to instead wake up and think "I can't wait to spend this day for the Lord! I am so thankful for His Word!" My first thoughts should always be focused on Jesus and I need to be thankful for the unchanging things about Him, such as His Word, His love, His mercy, His faithfulness, etc... because these things will not change and aren't constantly like shifting sand.

     So what is today for you? Is it one of those "happy" days or one that isn't so great? Well ,no matter what option you chose, lets all determine to make this a "truly joyful day" and be joyful in the unchanging characters of the Lord Jesus.

     One way I like to keep myself joyful is by singing songs of praise. It defiantly uplifts my spirit and helps me stay centered on HIM! Another thing that is good to do it to count you blessings! it's something everyone tells you to do but it really is life changing! 

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his;
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.
{Psalm 100}

3 Words of Grace:

alaw said...

Awesome post! This blog really should have more members!

Anonymous said...

So true, Bethany. People should be reminded everyday about this. We forget! Thank you so much.
Your Sister in Christ,
Emily J.
P.S.
The pictures of your sister are adorable!!!

Bethany Joy said...

Thank you for sharing, Bethany!

I really enjoy the book 'The Hiding Place' as it teaches so many good lessons. I have read that book several times, and that one story (about the fleas) is always the one that I remember.

Blessings!
Bethany Joy