- An unexpected inheritance of one million dollars
- An unexpected storm blows the roof off your house?
- An unexpected loss of your job?
- An unexpected blessing from a friend?
Correct answer: all of the above, because it’s a trick question. James the brother of Jesus said it this way: “…whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
You see if joy comes only in perfect circumstances we are in trouble, were doomed to a life without joy. The news is full of stories of people who have seemingly perfect circumstances in this world and yet their lives are a disaster. The good news is God wants to bring joy into our lives regardless of circumstances and His joy is a source of strength. “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Neh. 8:10 NLT)
If you allow circumstances to steal your joy, they will steal your strength. Once your strength is gone you lose the ability to fight and if you can’t fight you lose. Therefore it’s important to guard your joy regardless of circumstances. The more you understand joy the more you will live in the strength of the Lord. Joy is not found in a single event or a feeling, it is found in a process of living that God wants to be on your Life Palette.
1. Focus on the potential results
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28 NIV) This verse is often misquoted to say something more like “all things happen for a reason.” That’s not what it says, rather God will work in all things for our good. If you want to succeed in spite of the circumstances you are facing today, focus on the potential results that God wants to bring into your life as His masterpiece.
2. Focus on your priorities
If you allow circumstance to steal your attention away from your priorities you will be derailed from living your life mission and purpose daily. The only reason your priorities should change during a crises are if your priorities were wrong to begin with.
3. Focus on your perspective
Many times we allow circumstances to steal our joy because we are looking at them with a temporal perspective. Focus on having an eternal perspective. I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message paraphrase: “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18 Msg)
4. Focus on good news
We’ve all heard the “good news, bad news” jokes. One that I love is Moses coming down off the mountain after meeting with God to get the 10 Commandments: “The good news is I got Him down to ten. The bad news is adultery is still in there.” While most of them are funny, they typically focus on the bad news. The truth is, as His masterpiece, the good news is always going to overwhelm the bad news in the end. Why? Because of all that God has done for you through Jesus. Focus on the good news and let it determine your lifestyle.
Make this process a part of your Life Palette and you will discover that even during the most difficult of circumstance you can and will experience joy.
Take The Next Step:
- Think of a problem you are facing right now and ask how God might use it for your good? To be a witness? To encourage others? To build character?