Having ‘Joy’ Through Trials [v198]

AUGUST 2015

Having ‘Joy’ Through Trials

Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker: “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!” It’s easier said than done, but the basic philosophy is sound. Troubles in life are something we all have to deal with, but is there a way we can deal with them that won’t give us a ‘nervous breakdown’?

Well, first off, it has a lot to do with your ‘expectations’—what you want out of life, and what you think you ‘deserve’.

According to a variety studies I researched, though they varied a bit, here’s the top ten things people want out of life:

1. To love and be loved
2. Have a great family
3. Have friends that support you
4. Have good health
5. Having a high-paying job that is meaningful
6. Have financial independence/funded retirement
7. Have a life purpose/leave a legacy
8. To be accepted/respected
9. Be safe and secure
10. Be happy (peace of mind; pleasure; comfort)

 

The term that I saw the most mentioned was “happiness,” which for some people, encompassed all of the items on the list.

This seems to be the ‘mantra’ of our times. Happiness is viewed as all-important and an absolute ‘right’ as human beings. Happiness is thought of as “the good life,” freedom from suffering, well-being, prosperity, and pleasure. I wondered where this ‘idea’ came from.

Well, I doubt it came from the pioneers and early settlers—they probably were content to just survive. The writers of the Constitution considered “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to be essential, but there is a big difference between pursuing and an absolute right. In fact, the “right to happiness” concept has emerged only in the 20th century. As our lives have become easier (electricity; reduced work week; increased leisure time; social security; etc.), the idea that we ‘deserve’ perpetual happiness evolved.

 

Happiness is an emotion about meeting personal expectations and is usually directly related to current circumstances. So, when the circumstances are good and going our way, we feel happy—our ‘outward’ situation is good—there are no crises, we feel good physically, family life is stable, we have good friendships, there’s money in the checking account, the bills are paid, our job is going well, and the vacation was wonderful. On the other hand, when things ‘go bad’, get old, and disappoint, when we do not get what we want, or when things do not go our way—as they inevitably do—then this kind of happiness evaporates like the early morning dew in the heat of the sun, and we feel sad and are not ‘happy’. In addition, even when our ‘outward’ circumstances are seemingly ideal, we still may be troubled ‘inside’ by a nagging hunger or longing for something we cannot identify.

The thing is, I don’t think we can, or even should, strive to always be “happy”—since most psychologists agree that a “central focus on pleasure is not healthy.” This short-term, feel-good happiness rarely promotes personal growth, is usually selfish, lacking in commitment, and rarely fosters contentment.

 

So, what do you do when your expectations are not being met? Well, there’s a lot of self help ‘motivational’ speakers that will tell you to decide what you want, believe it is possible to attain, believe you can do it, develop clear goals to attain it, and then ‘take control’ to make it become reality.

All good advice, generally speaking. ‘Positive thinking’ and persistence are definitely assets, but ‘forcing’ your will on something doesn’t always work out—and when it isn’t working out, you will probably be ‘more’ than just unhappy!

So, is there another way to respond to life’s ‘ups and downs’ that isn’t as fickle and fleeting as happiness, which depends upon temporal factors like circumstances or other people? Well, I think so…and it’s called “joy”—which is a contentment that is not dependent on circumstances being ‘good’. This kind of ‘happiness’ can only come in a right relationship with God!

 

Joy, in the Biblical context, is not an emotion—it is an attitude of the ‘heart’. Joy points to the fact that because of God’s promises and blessings, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what ‘issues’ you have in your life, you can have a deep joy that otherwise would not be possible.

Whereas happiness is something that is temporary, joy is something that lasts. When happiness fades away, joy remains. Happiness only meets your surface needs, but joy meets your deepest needs. Therefore, happiness is like a ‘thermometer’ that registers the conditions, and joy is the ‘thermostat’ that controls the conditions!

If we pursue happiness instead of choosing joy, we will become, as Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl put it, “playthings of circumstance.” Our inner peace will be tossed back and forth according to the ‘whims’ of events beyond our control.

Storms rise up. Crises happen. Difficulties, trials, and suffering cannot be avoided. So, how do you keep from ‘losing your mind’ in the midst of all of it?

 

Well, the Bible says that God promises He will ‘give’ you peace and joy in the midst of troubles:

– “God will deliver us out of all our troubles” [ Psalm 34:17-19 ].

– “He promises that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts” [ Psalm 37:4 ].

“If we commit our ways to Him, He will take care of all the details” [ Psalm 37:5 ].

“If we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths” [ Proverbs 3:6 ].

 

Joy is a confidence in God’s leading and a security in His never-failing love, as author Stuart Briscoe points out:

“To rejoice in the Lord does not mean to ignore your responsibilities; neither does it mean to evade obvious issues. Rather, it means to be fully cognizant of the situation, fully prepared to deal with it responsibly and fully convinced of the power of the Lord to give wisdom, grace and courage to deal with whatever comes along. When this attitude is adopted it will not produce a giddy irresponsibility of a naïve ecstasy, but a deep mature responsible faith that has at its core a majestic Lord. When He is the One at the core, joy can result because of the certainty of His ultimate triumph, the assurance of His benevolent purpose and the opportunities for spiritual growth that the situation affords.”

So, just like when we exercise a muscle, it is strengthened and has more endurance the more we ‘strain’ it. In much the same way, God uses the trials of life to ‘strengthen’ our character.

 

We have all seen the tire advertisements on television. A car gets four new tires installed on it, and they put them through horrendous tests—driven over rocky roads, right through the middle of a chuck-hole, and over boards studded with nails. After the test is over, they show you the tire, and it looks like new! Then the ad ends with: “Buy Reliable Tires! They’re tested, proven!”

I use that example as an analogy for what this word “character” means to God. Jesus is building you up so He can present you to God the Father and say, “Dad…he’s tested; he’s proven.”

 

We will all be tested by trials, and would probably agree that it does teach us something valuable. But now for THE ‘CONFUSING’ PART. The Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” [ James 1:2-4 ].

Really??? How can I have joy when my car breaks down, when I lose my job, when I’m incapacitated by an accident or an illness, or when my spouse divorces me? It’s contrary to human nature!

While no ‘testing’ is pleasant at the time—and is usually painful—as we go through the trial, it will make our character stronger, preparing us for future trials that may be even more ‘painful’!

Anyone can be at peace when everything is pleasant—that’s no big deal. It’s when “all hell breaks loose” and we don’t have it together, and can’t control the situation that God is there to say, “Don’t have the answer? Great! Just lean on Me—that’s right where I want you right now. Can’t control or manipulate it? Marvelous! Just relax and wait on Me.” Peace comes to those who wait patiently on God’s ‘response’ in spite of the panic brought on by uncertainty. God wants us to ‘dump’ all our cares on Him—everything—including all our unfulfilled dreams, unpleasant circumstances, and uncertain future!

 

When God ‘allows’ a tempest in your life, it’s probably because a ‘change’ is needed. Usually, the storm is not the real issue—it’s an ‘imbalance’ that has developed in your character, a ‘dislocation’ so subtle that you can’t even see it until the turbulence gets your attention. Rest assured that the storm will blow you back into ‘balance’, so don’t abandon ship. No matter how far off course you feel, God’s ‘winds’ will blow you right back to where you belong—into His ‘Harbor’.

The Bible says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” [ 1 Peter 4:12 ]. So, if you are experiencing trouble right now, and might be ‘frustrated’ with God because of it, recognize that it’s because God loves you, and because of His sovereign grace, He is allowing you to go through this time of trouble—to ‘perfect’ His will in you! So, don’t resent trouble. It’s God shaping you for His divine purpose—for a MUCH BETTER FUTURE!

 

God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but it’s never to take away our joy. To maintain our joy, we must adopt God’s perspective regarding our trials—to ‘refine’ our character. When we yield to the working of His Holy Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us.

The Bible does underscore this by saying, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children… No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” [ Hebrew 12:7, 11 ].

When we go through trials, we begin to build endurance, patience and perseverance. Sometimes it’s only when we come to the end of ourselves that we’re able to release those trials to God and say, “God this is too big for me. I can’t deal with it.” Then, we begin to see the power of God in our lives and, amazingly, we find joy in the midst of it! Author C.S. Lewis called it “Surprised by Joy.”

Do you know the difference between a priceless diamond and a common lump of coal? The diamond is a lump of coal that has endured intense pressure. The trouble it endured made it priceless! The apostle Paul said, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” [ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ].

An olive will not yield its virgin oil until it is crushed. Delicious grapes cannot make new wine until they are crushed. Trouble is the ‘womb’ of greatness!

 

To have joy in trials is not to deny ‘crushing’ pain. But, it is to recognize the fact that they can co-exist—in the same way an expectant mother can go through the travail of birth and still have joy in thinking about what is to come. She has joy because she has the “right focus” as she considers how great it will be ‘after’ the birth. In the same way, we must have the right focus in order to have joy during our trials, knowing we will be even more joyful after the trial!

Often times, when trouble comes, our natural tendency is to focus on ourself and the problem—causing us to lose our joy. As a result we develop a survival mentality rather than an overcoming mentality. So, take on an overcoming mentality since it is what leads to spiritual growth and maturity in God, as well as ‘general’ success in our lives.

Despite what your circumstances are, YOU CAN ‘CHOOSE’ JOY! What you focus on will determine how much joy you have. Will you focus more on your problems instead of your blessings? Will you focus more on what’s going wrong and forget the good things you still have? Will you focus on what you’ve lost instead of the new ‘thing’ God is preparing for you?

So then, how can you have this joy in the midst of your trials? Well, God says you will not be able to do it on your own—you will need His help!

 

First off, God says you will need to commit all your ‘issues’ that agitate, frighten, or burden you into His capable ‘hands’—then STOP WORRYING about things you can’t change or control, and START PRAYING about everything!

Instead of worrying over every jot and tittle, yield a little. Quit trying to control everything all the time, and allow God to work in His way and in His timing. Relax and refuse to ruminate on negative ‘junk foods’ like shame, fear, or guilt, which strengthen worry and strangle peace!

The Bible tells us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 4:6-7 ].

So, knowing that peace will come from pain doesn’t necessarily make the pain any more enjoyable, not having to ‘worry’ about it will definitely allow you to handle it more ‘calmly’—and then have the empathy to be able to understand others’ trials much better.

 

So, we’re not supposed to worry about our problems, eh? Well, that doesn’t make any human sense! But, God wants you to know that if you are really ‘serious’ about solving your problem, and if you will TRUST HIM COMPLETELY, that He has the best ‘plan’ for your life (and your current problem) if you will just be patient and let Him ‘work’ in your behalf! He knows things about your ‘situation’ that you don’t know, His plan is ‘on schedule’, and He is in complete control!

It’s definitely not easy to trust God in times of adversity. Feelings of distress, despair, and ‘darkness’ trouble our souls, as we wonder if God truly cares about our plight. But, not to trust God is to ‘doubt’ His sovereignty and question His goodness! In order to trust God, we must view our adverse circumstances through the ‘eyes’ of faith, and not our senses! It is only through the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the ‘confidence’ to trust God in everything. When you trust Him completely, you will enjoy an inner ‘quietness’ and security. God also promises that He will never give us more than we can handle, and will take care of our needs!

So, when we are in circumstances that are beyond our control, we can pray as King David did: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life” [ Psalm 143:8 ].

St. Augustine said it better than I can: “We count on God’s mercy for our past mistakes; we count on God’s love for our present needs; but we count on God’s sovereignty for the future.” The all-knowing God reigns in realms beyond our comprehension, to bring about a plan that is beyond our ability to hinder, alter, or stop. We are in the ‘hands’ of a God whose purposes are very clearly set forth, and whose goals fit perfectly into His plan. He has total control. He has all the answers. He is the originator, enforcer, and provider. He alone deserves our absolute trust!

 

To encourage you to trust God, the Bible has many verses that talk about it, and here’s a few of them:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.”
[ Psalm 143:8 ]

“The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.”
[ Psalm 145:18 ]

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
[ Proverbs 3:5-6 ]

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
[ Isaiah 43:2 ]

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
[ Jeremiah 17:7-8 ]

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
[ Matthew 6:26 ]

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
[ Romans 15:13 ]

 

So then, now you have to MAKE A DECISION: Will you trust God in the ‘darkness’? Will you stop fighting and resisting God, since He has allowed you to be in this ‘dark’ place for your own good? Will you embrace the dark time, as coming from His ‘hand’, so that He can show you the ‘treasures’ He has planned for you after it’s over?

When you fully embrace God’s sovereignty, you will find that your confidence increases, insecurities fade, worries decrease, and calmness ‘envelopes’ you. Being sovereign, He is in charge of all life—and ‘sees’ the past, present, and the future all at the same time! The day we resign ourselves to this is the day we really begin to understand what it means to ‘rest’ by faith in the living God. When you don’t fathom why, He knows. When you haven’t a clue as to when, He understands. When you cannot imagine any good coming from something, He makes it even better than you could have imagined! (“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” – Ephesians 3:20).

 

So, when you don’t understand why your expectations are not being met and don’t see how the problem is going to be resolved, God helps you by BLESSING YOU WITH ‘HOPE’—“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” [ Jeremiah 29:11 ].

Hope will motivate you to accomplish the impossible. Remember, you can never ‘rise’ any higher than the hope that is in your ‘heart’—and hope in God will raise that hope to unprecedented heights! Hope is the ‘periscope’ that enables you to see over your present problems to see your future possibilities! (“Lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast” – Hebrews 6:18-19).

The apostle Paul said that we should be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.” [ Romans 12:12 ]. Hope gives you the ability to be joyful with where you are in life while working for what you want to be in the future. Author and speaker Joyce Meyer always says, “I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be.”

God is not ‘happy’ because we are suffering, but He IS HAPPY that we are hoping for a good result and refuse to give up! Your faith and commitment are ‘purified’ through trials, and you will now have a ‘depth’ in your soul that nobody can take away from you!

 

God does things for a ‘season’ and for a ‘reason’. When you are going through a trial, God is doing a ‘new thing’ in you!: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” [ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ]. God has a new and better ‘plan’ for you, so the best thing to do is TO BE THANKFUL for Him caring so much not to ‘leave you’ the way you were, and that “He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” [ Deuteronomy 31:8 ].

 

The word “joy” in the original Greek is “chara,” which translates to “being grateful, thankful, rejoicing.” So, instead of dwelling on the negative, we should focus on what God has blessed us with already. Joy comes from a thankful heart that is confident in God’s provision. Our praise and thanks pleases Him (“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness.” – Zephaniah 3:17).

The attitude of gratefulness is something we can choose to ‘put on’, just like you put on your clothes in the morning. If you really look and think hard enough, you can always find something to be thankful for. Even if life is really really hard right now (and you can’t think of anything), let me suggest you be thankful for the ‘mundane’ things of life: waking up today, family, friends, eyesight, fresh air, clean water, clothing, indoor plumbing, a comfortable bed, employment, a roof over your head, your car, paved roads, grocery stores, air conditioning, cell phone, hospitals, sunsets, trees, etc. More importantly though, be thankful for your relationship with God, thankful that you do not have to spend eternity in Hell, and that your situation is not worse than it is! (There is always someone that has it worse than you!). After all, “Give thanks to the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endures for ever” [ Psalms 136:1 ].

The thing is, we often forfeit our joy because we forget to be thankful to God for the things He has given us. Joy is dependent on the gratefulness in your heart and HOW CONTENT YOU ARE! The Bible tells us that contentment is the ‘key’ to having ‘true’ joy!

I started this ‘post’ off by saying it depends on your ‘expectations’ and what you think you ‘deserve’ from life. Well, learning to be content in any circumstance is the most important thing you can do to ‘enhance’ your joy!

The apostle Paul, whose circumstances varied from a ‘palace’ to a jail, commented that he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” [ Philippians 4:11-12 ].

Paul had learned to be content no matter what his situation. You see, it is not having more that is wrong—and there is nothing wrong with working to improve your situation in life—but, what is wrong is when you feel you must have more ‘in order’ to be content.

What did you bring with you into this world when you were born? Nothing! What will you take with you from this world when you die? Nothing! All those Pharoahs who had their treasures buried in their tombs with them when they died were gravely mistaken. You can’t take it with you! As the saying goes, “you never see a hearse towing a U-Haul.” He who dies with the most toys does not win, because you don’t get to take your toys with you when you die. In the Bible, as Job said when he lost everything: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart” [ Job 1:21 ].

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” That is an interesting way to define ‘richness’. You are not rich in relation to what you have, but in relation to what you do not need! In the case of a poor man who is content with what he has, he is actually far ‘richer’ than a wealthy man who wants more. We really do not need a lot in life—food, shelter, and clothing (and God promises to provide these!). What we do need is a relationship with God. (“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6).

The secret to enjoying this kind of contentment is to be so satisfied with God that we are able to ‘accept’ whatever He has or has not provided us!

 

So, a while back I said that God wants to ‘give’ you peace and joy in the midst of troubles. Well, He does have one ‘requirement’—that you are a “Christian”—one of His ‘children’.

We are born into this world at enmity with God, separated from Him by our sins. But, Jesus came to this earth, out of love, sent by God the Father to pay the price for your sins and provide you forgiveness. So, you just need to ‘turn’ from your sin, and embrace Jesus by faith, so you can receive the free ‘gift’ of salvation and have peace with God. (“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1).

So, if you would like to become a Christian right now, you could say something like the following (in your own words if you would like):

“Dear Lord Jesus,
I understand that I am a sinner, and I can’t save myself. I sincerely repent of my sins, and ask You for forgiveness and mercy. I believe that You died on the cross as my substitute, paying my sin debt in full so that I could receive Your forgiveness and have eternal life. I ask You to come into my life right now and become my personal Savior. From this day forward, I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to take control, and guide me be the kind of person you want me to be. Give me a ‘new beginning’, and help me to live for You.
 Amen.”

 

When you accept Jesus as your ‘Savior’, your life is totally transformed—and people will wonder how you can be so calm while going through your trials. When people look at you and see how joyful you are despite your circumstances, they will know you posses something not of this ‘world’. The thing is, at the exact moment you asked Jesus ‘into your heart’, God sent the Holy Spirit to ‘live inside’ you to guide, comfort, and aid you in ‘dealing’ with the trials of life!

In addition to the Holy Spirit, among the earthly ‘rewards’ that God promises His ‘children’ are peace, an abundant life, provision for their needs, and deliverance. So, you can be joyful for the rewards you receive in this life, and anticipate the greater rewards you will receive in the next! (“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” – John 10:10).

British playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan said, “Happiness consists in having someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.” In the same way, every Christian can ‘endure’ the trials of this life since this life is temporary—a momentary vapor—and they have Heaven to look forward to! But, Heaven is much more than a ‘destination’, it is also a ‘motivation’ (to live godly lives right now, and tell others of the joy and hope we have now in Jesus, as well as the hope we have for an eternity with God, after we leave this earth).

 

Since God is the ULTIMATE SOURCE of your joy, if you feel you are lacking it, just ask Him for it (“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” – Matthew 7:11). God reminds us that it is in His ‘presence’ that we find the joy we need. (“You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence” – Acts 2:28).

 

To help you remember how you can experience joy, try this acrostic: J.O.Y. = “Jesus, Others, You.” When you put Jesus first in your life, you have the joy He promised His followers: “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” [ John 15:11 ]. When you are concerned about others, helping and encouraging them, you have no time to wallow in self-pity or self-concern. Then, as you ‘connect’ with Jesus and help others, you will experience a much more ‘intense’ joy than when you do something for yourself!

 

Happiness is earthly focused, joy is heavenly focused. Real peace is the calm assurance that what God is doing in you is THE BEST FOR YOU!

I once heard someone say, “There is a stark difference between living for the moment and living for eternity. The former occasionally produces happiness and the latter always produces joy.”

 

So, let’s take that ‘plain’ lemonade and make a refreshing “Limoncello” Sangria!

 

[ Excerpts from: Adrian Rogers; John Hagee; Ron Hutchcraft; Kay Warren; Scott Epp; Ray Fowler; Alyssa Martin; Ray C. Stedman; John MacArthur; Michael Youssef; Charles R. Swindoll; Billy Graham ]

 

RESOURCES:

—————-
Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough
By: Kay Warren

Ever wonder why some people seem to experience joy in their daily lives–even in the tough times–and others can’t seem to find it no matter how hard they search? Is a joy-filled life really possible?

The answer is yes! And it’s possible for every woman, no matter what her circumstances may be. In this inspiring book, Kay Warren teaches women what joy really is, where to find it, and how to choose it in the good times and the bad. With compassion and wisdom, she shows readers–even those who live with the constant companions of discouragement and depression–that true joy is deeper, richer, and more accessible than they might think. Perfect for small groups or individual reading, Choose Joy will empower women who feel like their emotions and well-being are at the mercy of others by helping them understand the life-giving truth that joy is within their grasp–every day.

Book: “Chose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough” – by Kay Warren

Video: “Kay Warren: Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough” – Show: “Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life”

Video: “”Choose Joy” Kay Warren” – Show: “100 Huntley Street”

—————-
When God Makes Lemonade
By: Don Jacobson

In When God Makes Lemonade, author Don Jacobson has collected real-life stories from around the world that show everyday folks discovering unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances. Some are funny, others are sobering, and more than a few will bring tears of amazement. But these true stories all have one thing in common: hope.

There’s no question that life gives us “lemons,” like issues with health, employment, and relationships. But when those lemons become lemonade, it’s as refreshing as a cold drink on a hot summer day.

It’s true that in life “stuff” happens, but as you’ll see in these stories, Lemonade Happens too!

Book: “When God Makes Lemonade” – By: Don Jacobson

Web Site: “God Makes Lemonade”

—————-
Surprised By Joy
By: C.S. Lewis

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere . . . God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

This book is not an autobiography. It is not a confession. It is, however, certainly one of the most beautiful and insightful accounts of a person coming to faith. Here, C.S. Lewis takes us from his childhood in Belfast through the loss of his mother, to boarding school and a youthful atheism in England, to the trenches of World War I, and then to Oxford, where he studied, read, and, ultimately, reasoned his way back to God. It is perhaps this aspect of Surprised by Joy that we—believers and nonbelievers—find most compelling and meaningful; Lewis was searching for joy, for an elusive and momentary sensation of glorious yearning, but he found it, and spiritual life, through the use of reason.

In this highly personal, thoughtful, intelligent memoir, Lewis guides us toward joy and toward the surprise that awaits anyone who seeks a life beyond the expected.

“Lewis tempered his logic with a love for beauty, wonder, and magic . . . He speaks to us with all the power and life-changing force of a Plato, a Dante, and a Bunyan.”—Christianity Today

“The tension of these final chapters holds the interest like the close of a thriller.”—Times Literary Supplement

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898–1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, including The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, and Till We Have Faces.

Book: “Surprised By Joy” – By: C.S. Lewis

Lewis ultimately discovers the true nature and purpose of Joy and its place in his own life. The book’s last two chapters cover the end of his search as he makes the leap from atheism to theism and then from theism to Christianity and as a result, he realizes that Joy is like a “signpost” to those lost in the woods, pointing the way, and that its appearance is not as important “when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles.”

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[P.S.: If you would like to investigate what the Bible says about avoiding pain, visit the following link:
The Search For Meaning: “Avoiding Pain”

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v198) for AUGUST 2015
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: Contact e-mail for Mark Besh

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GOD’S PROVISIONS IN TIME OF NEED
[ Selected ‘snippets’ from a book by Charles R. Swindoll ]

– God becomes hope in our uncertainty and security in our confusion.

– The hand of God holds you firmly in His control. Be quiet. Be still. Wait.

– When you do what is right, without tiring of it, God takes care of the impossible things.

– We can count on God never to lead us astray. He knows exactly where He’s taking us. Our job is to obey.

– The problem is that we hold onto our problems.

– Relax. Untie those knots of anxiety with the settled assurance that the Holy Spirit will be there in your moment of need.

– Worrying never solved a thing, and it usually makes the situation worse, creating a terrible inner turmoil which, if allowed to intensify, can paralyze us. But we can have a calmness of spirit because we know that God is on our side.

– God won’t handle a situation necessarily your way, but He will handle it.

– We think of love as something that is giving, but sometimes love involves taking away something that would not be best.

– God knows no limitation when it comes to deliverance. Admit your fear. Commit it to Him. Dump the pressure on Him. He can handle i.

– Leaving the details of my future in God’s hands is the most responsible act of obedience I can do.

– To trust God completely requires the discipline of surrender.

– We can face whatever life throws at us when our strength is sourced in God.

– God gives us just enough light so that we can see to take the next step. That’s all He gives, and in reality, that’s all we need.

– Threatening storms are designed to slow us down, to make us climb up into God’s arms, to force us to depend on Him.

– The common response to trials is resistance, if not outright resentment. How much better that we open the doors of our hearts and welcome the God-ordained trials as honored guests for the good they do in our lives.

– When the sovereign God brings us to nothing, it is to reroute our lives, not to end them.

– Our Christian maturity is measured by our ability to withstand the tests that come our way without having them shake our foundation or throw us into an emotional or spiritual tailspin.

– God seems to reward us with good, delightful experiences when we move with joy through those times when we didn’t get our own way.

– The furnace of suffering provides not only light by which to examine our lives, but heat to melt away the dross.

– When we are suffering, only Christ’s perspective can replace our resentment with rejoicing.

– Like quicksand, feeling sorry for ourselves will suck us under.

– God is ready to fill your empty hands like you would never if you will only lift them up to Him in obedience and praise.

– God is never at a loss to know what He’s going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is, we don’t know. Faith is counting on Him when we do not know what tomorrow holds.

– We can rejoice through suffering because we have a permanent inheritance—a secure home in Heaven

– Our major goal in life is not to be happy or satisfied, but to glorify God.

[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

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REDEEMED

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be
Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be
Jesus, I’m not who I used to be
‘Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

[ Big Daddy Weave – “Love Come To Life” album]


Video: “Redeemed” – By: Big Daddy Weave

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SURPRISED BY JOY – IMPATIENT AS THE WIND

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

[ William Wordsworth ]

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CAST MY CARES

When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steals my breath away
When my back pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on you
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would have chosen
But you see the future no one knows yet
And you’re still good when I can’t
See the working of your hands
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on you
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For your peace inside my soul

I’m finding there’s freedom,
When I lay it all on your shoulders

Cast my cares I will, cast my cares I will, cast my cares on you
Cast my cares I will, cast my cares I will, cast my cares on you
Cast my cares I will, cast my cares I will, cast my cares on you

I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on you
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For your peace inside my soul

I will cast my cares on you
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on you
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For your peace inside my soul

Cast my cares I will, cast my cares I will, cast my cares on you

[ Finding Favour – “Reborn” album ]


Video: “Cast My Cares” – By: Finding Favour

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LET GOD HAVE HIS WAY

Do you long for the peace of assurance,
Long to know you are born from above?
Does God’s Spirit within you bear witness
You are truly secure in His love?

Chorus

Do you long to be made a clean vessel,
Fit for use, fully cleansed from all sin?
Do you long for the Spirit’s infilling;
Bringing new life without and within?

Chorus

Do you long to be filled with God’s fullness,
Long to know of sweet comfort and rest?
Cease from self-life and make full surrender.
There is only one way to be blest.

Chorus:
Let God have His way, He knows what is best;
Let God have His way, He’ll give you sweet rest;
Let God have His way, then you’ll surely be blest.
This moment, let God have His way.

[ Robert Hanson ]

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CONFEDERATE SOLDIER’S PRAYER
(Anon – alleged to have been found on a CSA casualty at the Devil’s Den, Gettysburg)

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, most richly blessed.

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HE SAID

So your life feels like it don’t make sense
And you think to yourself, “I’m a good person”
So why do these things keep happening?
Why you gotta deal with them?

You may be knocked down now
But don’t forget what He said, He said:

“I won’t give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
And No-o-o-o-o, I’ll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o”
Don’t you forget what He said

Who you are ain’t what you’re going through
So don’t let it get the best of you
‘Cause God knows everything you need,
So you ain’t gotta worry

You may be knocked down now
But just believe what He said, He said:

“I won’t give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
And No-o-o-o-o, I’ll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o”
Don’t you forget what He said

Don’t fear when you go through the fire
Hang on when it’s down to the wire
Stand tall and remember what He said:

“I won’t give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break…”

“I won’t give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
And No-o-o-o-o, I’ll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o”
Don’t you forget what He said
Don’t you forget what He said
Don’t you forget what He said (I want give you more)
I want give you more
What He said

[ Group 1 Crew ]


Video: “He Said” – By: Group 1 Crew

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OVERCOMER

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing’s really going right
Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you

[Chorus:]
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Ooh, you’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know

[Chorus]

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
He’s living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling you

(Take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to His promises)

[Chorus]

You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

So don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in, you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer.

[ Mandissa – “Overcomer” album ]


Video: “Overcomer” – By: Mandissa

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HE MAKETH NO MISTAKES

“He maketh no mistakes, He knows
Life’s future plans, and then bestows
Sufficient grace to meet the need
With waters still and pasture feed.
“He maketh no mistakes, for when
The storm seems greatest, then
The peace be still is clearly heard
On the tempestuous waves which stirred.

“He maketh no mistakes. Delay
Ordered by His command today
Is a development of plans
He has for us in Life’s brief span.
“He maketh no mistakes. What thrill
In knowing that His smile is still
Upon our lives, and that each hour
Depends on His infusing power.”

[ Dr. Charles V. Wagner ]

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WORN

I’m tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world

Pre-chorus:
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Chorus:
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause i’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m to weak
Life just won’t let up

Pre-chorus
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Chorus:
Oh Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

Bridge:
My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So heaven come and flood my eyes

Final Chorus:
Let me see redemption wins
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

[ Tenth Avenue North – “The Struggle” album ]


Video: “Worn” – By: Tenth Avenue North

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PRESSED

Pressed out of measure, pressed beyond all length;
Pressed so intensely, seeming beyond strength;
Pressed in the body, pressed within the soul,
Pressed in the mind till darksome surges roll.

God is my hope and God is my joy;
He is the resurrection life I enjoy.

Pressure by foes, and pressure from our friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends;
Pressed into knowing none to help but God,
Pressed into loving both the staff and rod.

Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for hard and hopeless things;
Pressed into life, a life in Christ the Lord,
Pressed into life, the life of Christ outpoured.

[ Annie Johnson Flint ]

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WHAT FAITH CAN DO

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes
And make a new beginning

Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger
Stronger than you know

Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason
For someone not to try

Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright

Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don’t have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That’s what faith can do

Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

[ Kutless – “It Is Well” album ]

Video: “What Faith Can Do” – By: Kutless

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TRUST HIM

Trust Him when dark clouds surround.
Trust Him when fearful doubts abound.
Trust Him when your strength may fail.
Trust Him when anxious thoughts assail.
Trust Him when His name you are barely able to call.
Trust Him when to simply trust Him is the hardest thing of all

[ Author unknown ]

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TREASURES OF DARKNESS

How to get through what you are going through.

[ Kay Warren ]

Video: “How to get through what you are going through-Treasures of darkness – By: Kay Warren

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NO MATTER WHAT

I’m running back to Your promises, one more time
Lord that’s all I can hold on to
I’ve got to say this has taken me, by surprise
But nothing surprises You
Before a heartache, can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands
And even though I, I keep asking why
I keep asking why

No matter what, I’m gonna love You
No matter what, I’m gonna need You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not – I’ll trust You
No matter what (no matter, no matter what, no matter)
No matter what (no matter, no matter what – no matter, no matter what)

When I’m stuck in this nothingness, by myself
I’m just sitting in silence
There’s no way I can make it, without Your help
I won’t even try it
I know You have Your reasons, for everything
So I will keep believing
Whatever I might be feeling
God You are my hope, and You’ll be my strength

No matter what, I’m gonna love You
No matter what, I’m gonna need You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not – I’ll trust You
No matter what (no matter, no matter what, no matter)
No matter what (no matter, no matter what – no matter, no matter what)

Anything I don’t have, You can give it to me
But it’s OK if You don’t
I’m not here for those things
The touch of Your love is enough on its own

And no matter what, I still love You
And I’m gonna need You

No matter what, I’m gonna love You
No matter what, I’m gonna need You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not – I’ll trust You
I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, but if not, I’ll trust You
No matter what (no matter)
No matter what (no matter, no matter what)

No matter – no matter what
(No matter – no matter what)
No matter – no matter what
(No matter – no matter what)
No matter – no matter what

[ Kerrie Roberts – “Kerrie Roberts” album ]


Video: “No Matter What” – By: Kerrie Roberts

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DEEP THOUGHT(s):

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
[ Helen Keller ]

“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
[ Robert Schuller ]

“The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears.”
[ John Piper ]

“When you praise, you raise. When you complain, you remain!”
[ Joyce Meyer ]

“Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.”
[ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ]

“Give without expectation, accept without reservation, and love without hesitation.”
[ Ashley Fern ]

“Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.”
[ Tim Hansel ]

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.”
[ Vivian Greene ]

“God whispers to us in out pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
[ C. S. Lewis ]

“Failing does not make you a failure. Failing does not make you faithless. Quitting after you fail makes you a failure.”
[ Tony Miano ]

“When you choose joy, you feel good. When you feel good, you do good. When you do good, it reminds others of what joy feels like, and it just might inspire them to do the same.”
[ Unknown author ]

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.”
[ Mother Teresa ]

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
[ Kay Warren ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
[ James 1:2-4 ]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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