The other day I was talking with a friend that I had not talked to in a while. Knowing that she had been through a deep, horrible loss with the death of her beloved brother, I emailed her to let her know I was thinking of her and praying for her.
Through a series of emails, she made a statement to me that many of us often forget when the pain is overwhelming and the darkness has consumed our days.
“Goodness does still exist here, you just have to look real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real hard.”
Here, among many other things, is what I shared with her.
“Goodness is still here. The negative overshadows it. Hurt covers it. Pain hides it. Uncover the goodness!”
Pain, discouragement and disappointment can and often does bring isolation. Then the depression creeps in. When that happens, JOY is covered up and because you don’t “feel happy”, the negative emotions take over.
Happiness is a fleeting emotion, while Joy is undeniable faith in an almighty God, who has your best interest at heart. We may not always understand our pain, anguish or why we don’t seem to be reaping the goodness we’ve sowed, but we can claim great joy in the Lord as we walk through the hardships that lay ahead.
I’ve had several people tell me that the only reason I can be actively spreading joy the way I do is because things are good and/or that I’m just looking at the world through rose colored glasses.
When I speak of spreading the joy of the Lord “regardless of circumstances,” I speak from experience. Yes, I’m so blessed! Yes, my needs are met and many of my wants are met as well. Yes, I have a wonderful husband, 2 amazing kids and family that I adore. Yes, I have a job to pay the bills and to give support to Spreading Joy with. But yes…I do know pain, hurt and just how dark negativity can make things.
There have been times that I’ve looked up towards heaven and said “seriously???? Lord?? Really?”
There have been times that I’ve sobbed, not just cried, but poured out my heart to the Lord saying, “again??? Must we endure this again?”
There have been times when grief has so filled my heart with sadness that I simply couldn’t get out of bed.
There have been times when I’ve wondered… “when Lord? When will a positive answer to prayer come”
There are things on my “only GOD” prayer list that I look at and wonder can I muster up a grain of a mustard seed sized portion of faith for those needs.
There have been times that my hearts tells the Lord, “I’m sorry, Lord. I’ve completely failed you and I don’t have the wisdom to take the next step”
And as much as I try not to, there are those times when I whisper in my heart, “why Lord. Why? I simply don’t get it!”
But I can firmly stand on the Word of the Lord with Nehemiah 8:10 saying the joy of the LORD is my strength. Am I always happy? No, I’m not. But do I have joy through sorrow? Yes, I do.
So, how do we find the goodness and find joy that gets hidden during these horrid times in our lives?
We look for them, seek them, choose them and keep them.
- Look for the good. There is usually something good about each and every day. Trouble is our heart is so discouraged that it shuts its eyes to anything but the negative that surrounds the trouble. Uncover the joy that is waiting to be discovered.
- Use praise as a weapon. Being openly grateful about the blessings in our world will drive discouragement away. Don’t get me wrong, it may be a fight between your heart and mind, but it is worth it. Praise the hurt away. Sing until the clouds lift from over your heart.
- Laugh. I love laughing and sometimes, I laugh at the most inappropriate time, which tends to end up being funnier for those around me. When your heart is in despair, find your favorite cartoons, your favorite funny shows and watch them.
- Saturate your day with the Word of God. Listen to the Bible, read the Bible. Find some online preaching. We should be in God’s word daily anyway, but more so when we don’t “feel like it.”
- Pray! Surround yourself with the Comforter Himself. God knows your heart, empty it of the hurt that is filling it up and let God’s joy strengthen you.
- Do something for others. Don’t let negative feelings about how small “your something for others is” cloud your heart. Just do it. I’m telling you, and I’ll keep telling you – go and give a box of Little Debbie Cakes away or a pack of Reese’s Cups. The smiles will be unbelievable.
- Dig deep into your memory. On the days when the sorrow is so great due to a horrible loss and you are working your way through the pain of that particular event, do something powerful and REMEMBER something good, just for a few moments. I know this kind of day. Even though you have great peace and trust the Lord to carry you through, the pain is so great that you wonder how you’ll function. Use the memories of something awesome to remind your heart that “this too shall pass” and just how amazing God’s grace truly is.
This in no way is an exhaustive list, but it is things that I do and turn to time and time again.
I’ve been sending out a message on twitter for a while now. I will send it out almost daily as I know different people will see it at different times. It says
JOY…. Choose it today! Look for it today… Expect it TODAY!
In the middle of your discouragement, remember the joy is right there too. Your eyes are closed to it because sometimes it is just easier to see the darkness. But remember, even in the darkest night, all it takes is one flicker and that flicker can be seen for miles.
Uncover the goodness; don’t let it slip by you without you grabbing hold of it.
How do you uncover the goodness and joy that is within your reach?
Will you share some of what gets you through the dark times?
What verse or verses get you through?
Inspire someone by leaving a comment.
Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.
Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.
We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.
My heart is amazed at just how big this world is and how technology can keep us in touch with those who have moved away from us. But sometimes, my heart is even more amazed at just how alone we can feel even though people are close to us physically as well as through technology.
We often feel alone when:
- The pain in the night is unbearable
- The silence is deafening
- Friends should rejoice with us but are envious
- Family squabbles become bitter feuds
- The darkness engulfs us
- The well deserved promotion is shot down by assumptions
- No one understands
- Everyone says they understand but act as if they could care less
- We’ve tried a million times but continue to feel like a failure
- We’ve asked for forgiveness but there is no hope of receiving it
- Good news is overshadowed by great hurt
You’ve probably been there and felt as if your prayers were going no further than the ceiling. Let me remind you that not only does your Heavenly Father hear those cries, they matter to Him. He hears you and cares about what your heart is feeling.
The time you feel completely alone is when you typically withdraw and close your heart off to the world. Worse than that, you close your Bible and think; I don’t even know what to pray, so why bother and you let isolation MOVE YOU from your Father’s side.
God never moves from us. We move from Him. But, even when we stray, move or completely ignore Him…we are never alone.
What verses do you wrap yourself in when you feel completely alone?
Please leave them below and encourage those that are feeling completely alone.
I Know You’re There
2 Chronicles 13:12
And, behold, God himself is with us
2 Chronicles 32:8
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.
You’re Not alone
Deut 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
God With Us
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;