Experiencing Joy When the Blessings Don’t Come

bibleThis is such a difficult concept for us Christians to grasp. We’ve been told over and over again that God wants us to live abundantly. That he has nothing but good for us. But sometimes the truth is, if we admit it, it doesn’t really feel that way. I’m not saying it isn’t true! But it simply doesn’t feel like it is. What do you do when you face these times? How do you hang on to your joy and not give into Satan’s lies that God isn’t for you but rather against you or simply not there at all?

A few years ago when my hubby and I were facing some challenging times I remember feeling almost ignored by God. As if He just didn’t want to bless me. Things weren’t going down like I had expected them to and I was really confused with God. Why, if His Word told me He wanted me to live abundantly and have joy to the fullest, wasn’t I feeling like this was the case? Have you ever experienced a time like this? Well I don’t have the perfect solution for overflowing with what our world describes as blessings, but what I can offer is a Biblical solution for living abundantly and having overflowing joy despite your circumstances.

I honestly still remember reading the following verse for the very first time. It was during the times of struggle that I mentioned and it knocked me to my knees.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Wow. What powerful verses! What I realized after reading these verses was that even if I never receive anything else ever again the salvation I have in Jesus Christ is worthy of all the joy I could ever experience. I have already been given more than I could ever deserve. When I remember this beautiful truth I am no longer affected by my circumstances. I believe this is what Paul was talking about when he said he has learned in every state to be content( Philippians 4:11). Paul had a heavenly perspective that enabled him to experience the joy of The Lord and God’s strength to endure all he faced. He looked to his salvation in Christ, not to whether or not his current needs or desires were being met. When I do this the joy and strength I experience is unfathomable.

Obviously not many of us are toiling in the fields, praying for a harvest, and herding animals. It might be more real to you if you think of it in a personal way. What is currently stealing your joy and strength? Here are some examples: Though my financial struggles never change, or I never overcome my physical illness, though I may never get pregnant, or I can’t seem to find a job during my unemployment, yet I will rejoice in The Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Really ponder this and make it personal based on what you are currently facing.

The bottom line is, even if salvation in Jesus Christ is all we ever receive, this is beyond more than we could ever deserve. Understanding this truth has enabled me to experience joy and strength regardless of my circumstances. I can tell you that since reading and taking these verses to heart my outlook on blessings has changed. I no longer feel like God has deserted me when things don’t seem to be going the way I’d hoped. Because no matter what, we have the ability, as Paul did, to be content regardless of the circumstances we face. We can do this by remembering what God has already done for us through sacrificing His son Jesus Christ, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what isn’t going our way.

if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your savior He is always waiting with arms open wide to accept you as His son or daughter. Personally I believe the only way to have true joy in a world full of pain and disappointment is through Christ. Give Him a chance and you will quickly see what I mean!

Advertisements

Five Tips For Accomplishing Change

changeInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is a well-known statement and one that couldn’t be closer to the truth. How often do we hope for something different but aren’t willing to DO differently? This is insanity! I have changed so much over the last five or six years and want to share some tips on what helped make it possible.

Tip One: Be aware of what needs to change: This might seem obvious, but if you aren’t willing to look at yourself and determine what changes you need to make you will likely miss it. If you think there is nothing at all about yourself or your behavior that needs to change then you probably don’t have very good self-awareness. (My blog on self-awareness might be a good place to start). Becoming more aware of self (my behaviors, feelings, and thinking processes, and how this affects those around me) has helped me to discover things in my life and my personality that need changing. This is only the first step. Being aware of what needs to change doesn’t mean it will automatically happen; you have to be willing to put in the effort.

Tip Two: Surround yourself with people you want to imitate: Maybe you want to be more thoughtful of others but this doesn’t quite come naturally to you. Find someone who is thoughtful and spend some time with him. Learn from his behavior and model it. Perhaps you struggle with being too negative. Do you think anything will change if you are surrounded by negative people? Their negativity will only fuel your own, which is why surrounding yourself with positive people will help you see things in a more positive light.

Tip Three: Discover God’s purpose for your life: This is highly debated, as many people believe God doesn’t really have a purpose planned out for each individual. As for me, I believe that He does, and that He wants you to discover what that purpose is. When I first met my husband I had quit college and felt that it just wasn’t for me. I had no idea what God wanted from my life. After being encouraged by my husband, I began praying and asking God what His purpose was for me. I took some aptitude tests to gain a better understanding of myself and what I might be good at. This is when I discovered the option of becoming a counselor. I was immediately drawn to this idea and began praying about whether or not this was from God. After determining that this was in fact what God had planned for me I began the journey toward becoming a counselor. This required a LOT of change but with God’s strength He has enabled me to accomplish my goal. I personally feel that serving God and being a wife and mother is my greatest purpose, but after that, counseling hurting people towards hope and healing is what I was made to do. Remember, when you discover God’s purpose for your life you can expect that it will require a lot of change and dependence on God to accomplish.

Tip Four: Be willing to face some fears: This is a scary tip! One that I know all too well. If you aren’t willing to face your fears you probably wont experience much change in your life. I used to be a socially awkward anxious individual who would rather sit inside than have to talk to someone I didn’t know. I HATED this about myself! For a long time I was too afraid to do anything about it and I suffered for it. I finally had had enough. I remember when my boss asked me if I wanted to do a sales training on a new tool my team had developed. This was the last thing in this world I wanted to do, but I knew it would only help me overcome my fears. It was awful, but I did it. Each time I took on a challenge like this it got easier and easier, until before long, it really wasn’t that scary anymore! It took some time (Like 5 years!) for me to go from being the anxious, socially awkward girl to the confident and friendly girl who could comfortably talk to new people and make some friends, but I eventually got there and I did it by facing my fears.

Tip Five: Be open and accountable with someone you trust: Having accountability is huge when it comes to making changes. We as human beings are weak and incapable of standing alone. If you have secret struggles that you know you need to change sharing this with someone you trust can make all the difference! In the same way, when you create goals it is so much easier to accomplish them when you share them with someone who cares about you. Someone who will follow up and hold you accountable. My husband and I are so open with each other about flaws we need to change. Because we know exactly what the other needs to improve on its easy to see it and call it out. This can be extremely irritating!! But also extremely helpful. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to bail on some social gathering because of fear. My husband could see the anxiety and terror on my face and sympathized, but he also knew that I wanted to change and that I wasn’t happy with how I was. Because of this he pushed me to face my fears and helped me to make the changes I needed to make. I never could have done it alone and neither can you. Maybe you don’t have a spouse you can depend on for accountability, if not find a friend or a mentor who you can trust to encourage you towards change.

These are just five tips that have personally helped me accomplish change in my life. What are some tips for change that you can share?