Do you ever think you might be happier, more fulfilled, less stressed ”if only…” you had a better job, you had married someone else, your house was bigger, you made more money, your kids were more respectful? If only things were different? Are you tired of dealing with so many issues? Do you sometimes wish you could take off, fly away, start over? What if the “problem” isn’t everyone or everything else, but you? The way you perceive yourself, your surroundings, and your life in general. Well, there are two things I want to share with you today. 1) Often, when you feel like you are in over your head, you are exactly where God wants you to be. 2) Only you have the power to change your view and find your joy.
I recently started a Priscilla Shirer Bible study on Gideon (Judges 6-8). That woman is an amazing speaker! Today she shared with us that no matter what crisis you are in or where you find yourself in your life, you are not beyond the reach of God. Wherever you are – God can find you. And if you find yourself in a challenging situation or you feel like you are in over your head, hold on and don’t give up hope, you are exactly where God wants you. He will find a way to use your circumstances for your good. Because God is more interested in changing your heart than your circumstances. Check out this short video clip from Priscilla: Your Weakness God’s Strength
No matter how you feel today about your problems or issues, your negative feelings will often lead you down the wrong path. Don’t follow them. Follow the Word instead. And consider this – your crisis often positions you for your calling. But discovering God’s purpose requires that you first recognize His presence. Personally, I connect most with God as Creator. I am more aware of His presence when I am surrounded by (or looking out at) the wonders of His creation. That is why you will find a lot of nature photos in my blog and on my Facebook page if you are a family member or friend. How do you connect with God?
Here is an excerpt from the Gideon study guide that spoke to me: “If we’ll look around, we might also find Him preparing us as He works through our daily lives. Today’s tasks–even the most mundane of them–are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling. They can carry clues to what He is leading us to learn and accomplish as we faithfully serve Him. While it might seem comical to find spiritual principles in washing dishes or answering phones at your desk job, God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence, and integrity through every task.” (p. 47) What I got from this – stay faithful to the task(s) you’ve been given even if it becomes unpleasant or inconvenient; keep trudging on even if you are in a season of your life that you are not happy about – God will find you there. Better yet, he will meet you there.
Speaking of being unhappy in your season or circumstances brings me to my #2 point above: only you can change your view - or viewpoint to be more accurate. I follow a blog called Speak Happiness. I think today’s post fits very well with this conversation: Unhappy? Change Your View. You can look at the same place or the same situation and see it in two different ways. You have to want to be happy to see happy. I also like these words from the author Valerie Alexander’s book Happiness as a Second Language: “One of the most important steps in being happy is ridding yourself of the things that make you unhappy. Whether it’s beating yourself up over an incident that didn’t turn out as you would have liked, or holding a grudge against someone who wronged you, or blaming the universe when things don’t turn out your way, the negative weight of past unhappiness can really inhibit your ability to be truly happy now.” (p. 66) You must take an active role in releasing the negative and embracing the positive. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can change how you view it, what you hold onto, and what you feel in your heart. You can focus on the good and the joyful things in your life.
I also love these words from Holly Gerth, another author and blogger I follow, in a post about her new book You’re Going to Be Okay: “When life surprises us, smacks us on the behind, runs away with our dreams it’s our hearts that are left standing there hurting. Our heads know the truth. We understand what’s supposed to make it right in that moment. But somehow even the truth can ring hollow sometimes. So what do we do then? Is it even possible to live with joy, resilience, and strength in this broken world? After connecting with thousands of women about this topic, searching Scripture, and through my own journey I can say without reservation: YES. And it’s not just possible, it’s what God desires for you. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).”
The Gideon study reminds me of this: It is through our weakness that we experience God’s strength. Do not let your circumstances define you or direct your view. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep your heart open to the happiness that can be yours.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11, 13