“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
As a mom and a teacher I have discovered that there is much to learn from watching the behaviors of children. Our youngest daughter spent two weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit last spring. I would stay the night in the hospital each night and my husband would come home to stay with our two year old. He said he was amazed daily at how our daughter was still so full of joy, even though our world seemed to be in shambles at the time. She was unable to see her mommy every day, she was shipped back and forth to grandparents and aunts and uncles, and she had seen her baby sister lying in the hospital bed hooked to a ventilator. She knew that these circumstances were less than desirable, yet she was filled with joy. So how do we, like my precious tot, live joyfully even in the midst of trials?
Here are 3 keys to living joyfully above our circumstances:
1. Trust God.
“Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.” –Psalm 40:4
2. Hold Fast to Hope
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” –Romans 5:3-5
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” –Psalm 30:5
3. Remember God is Present
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me withjoy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” –Psalm 16:11
“Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” –Psalm 63:7
God often helps me understand lessons like this through parenting. It helps me to understand Him as my Heavenly Father through parenting situations and my role as a parent. Last week He brought me through a parenting situation that helped me tie these keys to joyfully living together. My 3 year old had an appointment with a pediatric specialist at the children’s hospital. As I was checking in at the reception desk, a little girl, about four years old, came out of the Cancer Center with her mom and older sister. It was apparent she was a cancer patient. She had a bandage wrapped around her arm and it looked as if she was starting to get some hair back on her head. She was pale and fragile looking, yet she skipped to the elevator. My eyes filled up with tears as I thought about what this little girl and her mother must have been going through. My heart broke for them, but the little girl’s smile and joy were contagious at the same time. As I took my seat in the waiting room I pondered the sight and I asked God to teach me how to have that kind of joy no matter the circumstances.
Throughout my daughter’s appointment, the Holy Spirit continued to move within me. Through my daughter He showed me what it looks like to have joy in the Lord above the circumstances. My daughter had to go through an uncomfortable procedure, but throughout her times of discomfort I assured her that I was there and that it was all going to be okay. Seeing the way she trusted me, and how just holding her hand gave her strength and comfort, I was reminded of how we find joy in trusting God and resting in His presence. I promised her that after this appointment she would be all fixed up and we could go have a fun day together. We had plans of ice cream and play time following the appointment, and as she remembered the future that awaited her she was able to endure with joy set before her. That is the picture of hope. If we remember that a bright future awaits us, we are better able to endure our current trials with joy.
Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me these practical lessons through the joy of little children. These children are such blessings. Help us to see all there is to learn and cherish in their beautiful little souls. Father, continue to teach me what I need to be able to live joyfully above my circumstances. Your word tells us what a gift joy is, so help me to protect the joy that I have been given. May today be a joy-filled day as I rejoice in you, trust in you, hope in you, and rest in you. I love you, my Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.