I was watching the movie the Christmas story recently and after the presents were opened, the father asked the oldest son, Ralphie, if he received everything he wanted. Although the floor was covered with toys, Ralphie’s answer was, “Almost.”
I wonder how many people feel the same way as Ralphie did. If you have watched the movie, you know that Ralphie receives his desired gift…a Red Rider BB Gun. But for most people, the desire to own the newest, latest, greatest is just a symptom of a deeper problem…the search for true happiness.
I saw this quote on facebook today: “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington (1732 – 1802)
That’s not to say that we don’t or shouldn’t experience other emotions. To be cheerful when things are going well is natural; to be cheerful in the face of adversity goes against human nature. I may feel many things; anger, fear, resentment, helplessness. But to overcome the initial reaction or feeling takes concentration and determination. The ability to focus on the positive is a gift. The apostle Paul, despite the troubles and abuses that were inflicted upon him, remained joyful in his journey because he never lost sight of the destination.
What is it that you are facing in your life today? Job loss, health issues, loss of a loved one…the list goes on and on. But turning our focus, even for a short time, from our problems, from ourselves, to the one who can bring us peace, requires practice and purpose. Take ten minutes and concentrate on the Lord…push all other thoughts from your mind, but your image of God, the father. My image is always of me sitting on the floor with my head resting against his knee, his hand gently caressing my head. It soothes me and calms me and gives me peace. But if I don’t take the time to do this, I miss out on the many blessings the Lord has for me. The more time I spend with God, the more natural it becomes for me to be joyful, even when things around me are chaotic, when I don’t feel well, or people I love are suffering. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
What is your source of strength? Where does your joy come from? If you don’t have an answer to these questions, I urge you to try my exercise above. Take ten minutes and spend with the Father…let his strength be your joy.