Posts Tagged ‘Joy’

As a pastor and now as a counselor, I have dealt with a lot of end of life and bereavement situations.  Many times I have heard well-meaning people giving bereaved people advice similar to “just give it some time, after all ‘time heals all wounds.’” It is as if these well-meaning people are saying: “You just have to wait and in time your sadness, anguish, yearning, guilt, , and fear will just fade away, and you’ll be fine.” But hold on a minute, that approach to grieving raises the question how long is “some time” – two months, one year, two years, five years? Having been on the hurting side of grief myself, it is my belief that while time helps, time does NOT heal all wounds. A more apt saying is “IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH THE TIME THAT HEALS.”

Instead of sitting back and hoping that time will heal, the Bible tells us to turn to God for strength.

Sometimes the pain is so bad that we don’t think we can go on, we just want to quit. At that exact moment we are exactly where God can do his best work.

Once, when the apostle Paul was facing a very painful situation in his life, he begged God to take it away.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 [NIV]

It’s our weakness that we find it easier to allow God to be strong in us. But what exactly do we need to do to make that become a reality in our lives?

Andrew Murray, a preacher and writer the end of the last century experienced an injury to his back early in his life that left him with deep pain for most of his life. At one point, he was bedridden and lying on his back at home and he would do his writing there from the bed.

One morning he had been writing in his journal and his maid came in to announce a visitor. “There’s a woman downstairs,” she said, “and she’s got great trouble in her life and she would like to know if you have any advice, anything you could share with her.”

Murray removed from his book the page he had been writing in his own journal and he handed it to the maid and said, “Share this with her; I wrote it for myself.”

The words he handed to her were these: “In times of trouble, say these four things:

1. He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this place; and in that, I rest.

2. He will keep me here in His love and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.

3. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

4. In His good time He can bring me out again how and when He knows.

Therefore, say, ‘I am here, one, by God’s appointment, two, in His keeping, three, under His training, and four, for His time.’

Question – as you deal with your pain and grief, are you trying to buck up and get through it on your own? Or are you turning to God and laying the issue at his feet. It’s not easy to do this, by the way, but it makes a huge difference in our attitude.

Well, that’s a plan for good grief: express the pain, accept the reality and turn to God for strength.

Some of us are in the middle of a lot of pain right now. We’ve got a choice to make. And that choice will take us to one of two very difference destinations. One is a destination of hopelessness and numbness and just going through the motions. The other is a place of joy and dancing, even in spite of the sorrow.

You have turned my  into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11 [NLT]

That’s my hope for you. And it’s God’s promise, that if we’ll manage grief His way, one day we will be able to dance again.


A poverty-stricken woman was found on Christmas Day eating a dinner that consisted of a piece of bread and a small fish. A visiting friend was pitying her because of her poverty.  The old woman with face aglow, replied, “Poverty? Dear heart, don’t you see that the Lord has created the land and sea to feed me this blessed Christmas Day?” This woman owned the earth, though she ate only bread and herring for Christmas dinner.

So where does that type of gratitude come from? Like any other attitude this one comes from what’s on the inside of a person.  So, what is on the inside of a person who has an attitude of gratitude? What’s in the heart and mind of a person that keeps overflowing in “thank-you’s” to people and to God for the gift of life? I know there are more but let me suggest a few that I’ve observed.

#1 There is an understanding that the doorway to gratitude does not hang on the hinge of good circumstances.

People with this attitude believe that it’s possible to do exactly what the Bible says: Give thanks in all circumstances [good, bad or ugly], for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

They don’t believe the lie that life has to be on the upswing before they can be satisfied. Even in the middle of the most difficult situations they truly believe they can find something to rejoice over.

I have a friend on Facebook named Kebo.  I kind of hope he doesn’t read this blog because I didn’t get permission to use him as an illustration.  Kebo is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met.  You never see him writing things like, “Ugh, it’s Monday again.”  He never uses one of those frowny colon-slash-opening parentheses icons.

I really look forward to reading Kebo’s posts on Facebook because they are always uplifting.  I want to be like him when I grow up. He seems to live with the attitude that he has everything he needs to be joyful regardless of the circumstances.

 Do you believe that about your life? That you have everything you need – right now – to be joyful? That’s the key to an attitude of gratitude.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about a Pollyanna approach that says “well, let’s just close our eyes and pretend that everything is ok even when it’s not.” I’m talking about a realistic approach that freely admits that “the situation is not good right now, but I can find something to appreciate about it, and I choose to make that my focus.”  I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do but it is the healthiest way to live.

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Posted: June 7, 2010 in Stress


It is interesting to me that when people think about sin, we think about the big stuff like murder, adultery, kicking the dog…  but we would seldom if ever think of being a grump all day long as a sin.  However, in the Bible in Philippians 4:2 we find,  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, rejoice.  [Those are commands.]  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  It’s not only a command; it’s repeated twice in the same verse. 

Throughout the Bible, joy is described as one of the primary characteristics of God Himself.  Jesus said when He was getting ready to leave the earth, “My joy I give to you so that your joy may be complete.”  He wants us to be happy.  Jesus was not so concerned that the world  was too happy when he got here.  He was upset that the world was not discovering enough of the joy that God had created it to live with.  That’s a whole different thing.  To take life and choose to preset – the reason I like the word “preset” is, I think you have to choose it in advance.  You have to determine, “Am I going to be a crotchity old grump all the time or  am I going to operate on a higher, happier, joyful level?  Am I going to give joy away or am I going to be one of those people that others are happy to not be around?” 

I read a story recently that may be helpful here.  It’s the story of a little bird who went north and south with the flock for several years.  Then one year he discovered that you could hang out around the farmer’s barnyard and when he’s feeding the chickens, it’s like free food.  You’re not hunted down.  It’s always on time every day.  So when the rest of the flock got ready to fly south for the winter this bird decided, “Not me and not this year.  No way.  This is too good.  I’m staying.  I’m tired of that long flight.”  He stayed a little too long.  So when the winter weather blew in and he began to freeze to death, he remembered, “Now I remember why you’re supposed to go south.”  So a little bit late he took to the air and got caught in one of those ice storms that happens in the Midwest.  He probably hadn’t gone 100 yards when he was trying to flap his wings, and they iced over and he couldn’t even move.  He went into a nosedive and plowed himself right into a cow pasture just 100 yards from the barnyard.  He realized, “I am going to die!  Stupid me.  I’m freezing to death.  I’m shivering.  I’m bruised from the fall.  I’m going to sit here and die.” 

About that time, as if life wasn’t bad enough, a cow walked by and dropped a plop right on him.  The indignity of it all!  Now, cow plops when they first drop are warm.  The bird realized, “This is warm.  I’m feeling better already.  All the ice is melting.”  Then the outside of the cow plop began to harden against the winter weather and kind of turned into an igloo.  Then in just a matter of about an hour the bird went from, “I’m going to die!” to “I’m going to live!”  He began to get so excited and joyful, he began to sing out like birds do.  About that time a coyote was coming across the cow pasture when he heard this cow plop singing.  He went over to check it out, knocked off the cow plop part, found the bird and ate it. 

That story has three lessons we can draw from it:

            Lesson number one, not everybody who drops a plop on you is your enemy.

            Lesson number two, not everybody who takes that stuff off of you is your friend.

            Lesson number three, if things are not going well in your life, keep your mouth shut.

Life goes better if you choose joy.