I’ve been sharing about joy on the blog, not the joy the word gives, but the joy the Lord gives – A peace that passeth all understanding. As we’ve talked about it, we’ve looked at three things that we trade this joy in Christ that he offers for. There are many things we could add to this list, but I’m just looking at a few. You can read the first three parts here:
Part 1 here –We Trade Joy for Self .
Part 2 here – We Trade Joy for Busyness .
Part 3 here – We Trade Joy for Discontentment .
4. We Trade Joy for Depression.
I approach this carefully as I know depression is very real. I have had family members who decided they couldn’t deal with it any longer and take their own lives. I myself have experienced it. I’m going to share a little of that and how the Lord helped me through it with you.
One thing I have discovered with it is this – NO PERSON CAN HELP. It is only Jesus who can help you through that. No letters/messages/visits/gifts…none of that does more than give a fleeting feeling of feeling loved. I remember in Ukraine being discouraged and wishing that someone would email me…when I finally did get an email, it only helped for a moment. It was once I stopped looking for others to make me feel better and turned to the Lord that I could experience joy again.
Two weeks after my youngest child was born, I had a large swollen lump on my chest about the size of a baseball. I was in pain and feverish, but kept saying it was just mastitis. We had our mission’s conference that week, I had meals to prepare for it, and I didn’t feel like going to get it checked out. By the next week, I couldn’t wait any longer. We found out that it was MRSA. They talked about having to take off that breast as they weren’t getting it to clear up. Five months and a 10 day hospital stay later, it was finally cleared. Almost immediately after that, I got Cdiff. It was another 6 months before we were able to get that to clear up. I began to get very weak and was in a lot of pain constantly. I thought possibly low iron because of the weakness, but my iron came back normal. My doctor had also decided to test for Lyme’s disease as the symptoms were similar. What he ended up diagnosing me with was fibromyalgia. I knew very little about it, but after talking with him, I knew there was nothing he could do for me (except strong medications), and I’d have to live with this pain for the rest of my life.
I still remember the days following that. I was so depressed at that thought that I could not get out of bed. I didn’t want to see anyone or go anywhere – it was too exhausting. Noise from the kids overwhelmed me – even normal talking. I just wanted to cry all the time.
Maybe you haven’t been diagnosed with something like that, but maybe you feel like, “I’m miserable! I feel like crying all the time.”
What do you do? What did I do?
“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”Proverbs 16:3
Commit thy works = thy thoughts shall be established. God is telling us here our actions can shape our thoughts! Controlling our thoughts is so difficult, but controlling our actions just seems so much easier! The Bible is saying when we just DO the right thing, our thought will be right!
You have to come to the point where you say, “I can’t do anything about how I feel, but I can do something about how my family feels.”
Have you ever noticed that when you’re at church or if a visitor drops by you can smile and act sweet? If we can make that choice for them, we can do it because we love our family! Just because your miserable, doesn’t mean you can’t make them happy and feeling loved.
And often real joy will come when we act it.
That does not mean we should give our thoughts free reign! The Bible says we need to take captive every thought ~ prisoners don’t usually go easily, so it may not be easy to capture those thoughts!
A verse that God directed me to help me is Philippians 4:8. I memorized it and quote it when needed to check my thoughts by his guide.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.Philippians 4:8
Checking might go like this…
Your husband forgets to take out the trash. Your mind immediately goes to how awful that is…how many times you asked him to do it, etc. Check your thought.
Is it true? Usually my mind will want to say yes here. But thankfully there is more.
Is it honest? Yes, honestly, he did not do it…keep going.
Is it just? Pure? Lovely? As I go through this list, I find that I cannot continue to hold onto these thoughts.
Memorize scripture. Take time to spend with the Lord. Check your thoughts, and when all else fails – just start acting it and your thoughts will follow. Get up, get dressed, smile for your children. I realize this is so much easier to say than to do, but my dear sister, I HAVE BEEN THERE. I understand. But God does not lie, and I also have been on the other side when you get up and do and joy follows.
Lastly in our series on what we trade joy for is We Trade Joy for Our Own Way.
You could go through this entire series on joy, practice it, but EVERYTHING, all of this is in vain if you are still going your own way. If you have not turned to Christ, admitted your sins is why He died, and trusted in HIM as the only way of salvation.
Susannah Wesley is a woman that we all look to as one of the most godly women in history. You read how she would have her apron over her head to pray, but when you read her testimony you hear how she did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ until she was much older. Her two grown sons lead her to the Lord.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.James 2:19
Wow. He makes a point of telling us that even the devils believe in God! But we know they aren’t saved! Just the knowledge that there is a God, that He died and rose again won’t save you. It is only when you come to God, through repentance in faith that you can be saved.
…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”Mark 1:15
I hope today, if you have not done this already, you will get it settled. You cannot have the peace and joy God offers without a personal relationship with HIM.
I hope this series has been a blessing and encouragement to you. My prayer is that you won’t be like Esau and trade the blessings and joy God offers for the temporal things of the moment.