Finding joy (in a not so joyful situation)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This past weekend, my husband and I got away for a few days to celebrate our second anniversary. We booked a cabin near a lake a couple of hours away, packed up the dog and planned for a romantic and relaxing time together. But rather than being the low-key trip we hoped for, this one did not go as planned.
I spent most of Saturday evening and early Sunday morning crumbled up in a ball near the bathroom, sick as a dog. To make matters worse, we were an hour away from the nearest hospital, which meant the remaining hours of our “romantic getaway” would be spent either in an emergency room or traveling to or from the hospital. Around 6 a.m., some five hours after we first started our journey to the hospital and when it was finally time to head back to the cabin, something unexpected happened. I was filled with gratitude - joy even.
Rather than wallowing in a self-induced pity party about what went wrong on this trip, I was reminded about all I had to be thankful for. I started focusing on all the good that could come out of this less than ideal situation.
I got to see my loving husband in action, witnessing first hand how dedicated he was to care for me (way more romantic than flowers if you ask me.) I was introduced to an extremely caring nurse and doctor, and after a long night was finally on a path to healing. And, we got to watch the sunrise over the beautiful Ouachita Mountains on the drive back to our cabin, something we wouldn’t have gotten to experience otherwise. What gifts!
One of my favorite quotes from Clay Scroggins’ book, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge is “When I desire what God wants to teach me more than I desire getting done what I want to get done, I am in the best place.” While this quote was written with the intention to cultivate our leadership skills, it's also applicable to our attitudes in unexpected or undesirable situations. If we’re focused on the good things God might be showing us rather than trying to control outcomes, get frustrated, or throw ourselves a pity party, that’s when good things happen.
That’s when peace floods in. That’s when our outlook changes. That’s when we’re able to join Paul in the quest of being content regardless of our circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).
If there’s one thing we can bet on it’s that life is going to get messy. Plans are going to change, people will let us down, and our health is going to fail. But, if we can seek out reasons to be joyful, pray without ceasing, and try to be thankful in all circumstances, we will know without a doubt that we’re in line with the perfect will of God.
Challenge: If you’re caught in the middle of a less than joyful situation, stop and ask God to give you the eyes to see all the good He’s doing. Pay attention to what He could be teaching you or how He could use this situation for your good and the good of others.
Jantzen Jolly-Miller is a small business marketing professional and freelance faith writer who is on a mission to help women get real: real with themselves, with their business, and with their relationship with God and His church. In addition to being the lead content writer for Wheat and Honey Co., she blogs about personal takeaways from her life and faith walk to help women create positive change in their everyday routines at JantzenJollyMiller.com