Resolve for joy when times are tough

I don’t believe in fate, not really. Or déjà vu. I definitely don’t believe that everything that happens to us is completely random. Some things are within our ability to control, others aren’t, which most all of us believe in some form or fashion, just varying how much falls into each camp. Fate and déjà vu don’t really catch my attention as I make my way through life, but coincidences and premonitions are another story.

When you stumble upon the same core idea multiple times within a few days, I believe the universe is trying to grab hold of you and tell you something. It’s time to pay attention.

Something caught my attention very quickly last Sunday during the church service. It was very small, something most people would just chuckle at before moving on.

As the opening hymn began to play (Lift High the Cross), I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “I had this song in my head all day yesterday.” He shrugged, “Maybe it was a premonition,” then quickly went back to singing and likely dismissed it immediately thereafter. To me, it was a sign: it was time to pay attention.

The sermon had my laser-focus from the first ten seconds. Now, I love church, but that isn’t normal for me. I have lived so long in the written word that it is very hard for me to glean information when I haven’t been able to visually process it. 

It opened with a call for us to determine to find joy in the face of difficulty, and as it happens, that is what so much of the book I’ve been slaving away writing each day is about. Maybe this was a sign that I would learn something new. Maybe I would hear something so amazing it would give me a new idea for the message I want to take to the world. Maybe this was God’s way of telling me that I am on the right path doing this.

The sermon message focused on why we get frustrated when events don’t go to plan, how to accept suffering, and how to turn suffering into a source of joy. It reminded me of all the occasions over the summer months where I was at my wit’s end with failed excursions, weather-related cancellations, and times when I just couldn’t get my family to cooperate to do what I thought we needed to be doing to make lasting memories of our extended time together. I learned so much more through the trials we faced and wholeheartedly realized the truth that a challenge is still a blessing in the form of a lesson. I learned not to fight it and to appreciate the trials enough to thank God for them every day when I listed out the blessings I was grateful for in our dinnertime prayer.

More importantly, I found a way to teach my children to appreciate the unanticipated curve balls that would be thrown their way. Through this, they learned how to feel joy and laugh at situations instead of crying. I remember saying to them that they can always choose to laugh. The scenarios you find yourself in aren’t always up to you, but the attitude you face them with is. We should all remember that we have access to joy within us that people and problems cannot steal from us.

I pray that you all choose wisely as you continue your walk through life. Choose the life spring of joy that is available to you. It flows from within.

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