To understand my situation better, I must know my God better.
Now that we’ve established what joy is, and what it isn’t, let’s take a look at how to find it. How do we get to where we can have that calm in the center of our storm?
1. Realize God’s sovereignty.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15
What does sovereign even mean? It is defined as supreme; preeminent; indisputable; above all others in character, importance, or excellence. Possessing supreme or ultimate power.
Take the story of Job where Satan came before the Lord and was granted permission to test him. However, he could not take Job’s life. God knew what Satan was trying to do and He allowed it, knowing He would work out a far better plan than anyone could have dreamed.
No matter how much evil and havoc the devil may try to wreak, God still has the ultimate and supreme power. He has the final say-so.
2. Believe God has a purpose.
“For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139:4
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I would have to say this was the one single most important factor that has helped me. On the days when I’d watch my husband sweating with the intensity of his pain, on the nights when the oppressive darkness of depression clung so close we could scarcely breathe, or the mornings when we’d wake up wanting to cry because the pain was back again.
I found I had to believe that my God had a plan. I’m not saying God caused the accident since we make our own choices, but I knew He could take this situation and make something of it. He already had a plan and a purpose for all this pain. I just simply had to believe that the Creator of the universe, the Alpha and Omega already knew what the end of this situation would be and how He could work it for His glory.
If I had thought there was no rhyme or reason to this agony, or that nothing good would come from it, I would have crumbled. As Christians, we have a hope and it’s never more important than when you’re in the middle of a valley.
3. Pray unceasingly.
I Thessalonians says to pray without ceasing.
Have you ever thought about the times in your life when you pray the most? It almost always is when we are hurting, scared, lonely, or going through something that doesn’t have the beauty of a mountaintop experience.
It is in the valleys where people learn to pray.
Without your lifeline to heaven, you soon begin to rely on your own intellect to make decisions. And when you’re in the midst of an already-trying circumstance, your own intellect is bound to be flawed.
Prayer keeps you connected to the Father while you’re washing dishes, folding laundry, giving baths, driving kids to school, or when you actually have time to sit down and worship Him. Don’t let that connection die or you will soon be sucked into the vortex of chaos around you.
4. Look for the lily in your valley.
This is a famous verse which we have all heard: “In everything give thanks.” I Thess. 5:18
But you need to look at this verse closely. It does not say we must give thanks for all things. Instead, we are to give thanks in every situation. God knew there’d be times we wouldn’t understand why He lets bad things happen, but He also knew we’d need encouragement to look outside of our situation to the beauty He has placed before us.
Think of it as a challenge. The next time you want to complain about a hardship in your life, pause to look beside the path God is taking you for that precious little lily He has planted there along your way. Then thank Him.
An amazing thing begins to happen when you stoop to look down at your lily. Your perspective on life with its hardships and trials begins to change. God doesn’t take your valley away and leave you standing on a mountaintop within the blink of an eye. But you are no longer looking at the rocks along your path since you’re too busy finding lilies.
When Lowell’s accident took place, we had just moved two years prior to Idaho which is 2,000 miles from our family. They came out and helped us for a few weeks which was wonderful, but for the long-term, it was our church we depended on. They were many lilies in our valley. And become more precious to us than they know.
5. Be willing to let God use you and your experience.
Once a potter has fashioned, shaped, and finished his vessel, he does not want to sit it on the shelf as decoration. It is meant to be used.
So are you.
Almost a year ago, we lost our fourth child to miscarriage and as you all know, I was devastated. I wanted to crawl in a hole and not come out for a long, long time.
Lowell told me that God may use this experience of ours to touch others. But in my selfish, breaking heart, I said I didn’t want to “touch others”. I just wanted my baby back.
Then he said something which finally broke through. “What if God uses our experience to save one soul? Wouldn’t it be worth it?”
Oh ouch. How could I compare my hurt to the value of an eternal soul?
Sometimes it takes leaving our little comfortable box we’ve put ourselves in to let God use us. Sometimes we must let old and painful memories resurface in that process of “being willing”.
But the blessing that comes from knowing God has used you, will be worth the pain it takes to say yes.
So there you have a few of the steps for developing a mindset of Joy Amidst Trials. But just when I think I’ve achieved it, something happens to reveal to me that I need to work on it yet again.