I know this might sound too simple. I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance. A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.
All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women. Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life. However, there is a better way to live. God recommends it in the Bible. It’s called being thankful for what you do have. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“. This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day? Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world! Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you? Wonderful! Do your legs and hands work? Can you see, hear, and taste? Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys. Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him? Awesome! That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!
Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives. But we can’t stay camped out there! Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful. Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.
Are you feeling weary, discouraged or burdened? Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated with others or even yourself. This remedy might seem strange, but God says that when we meditate on His principles and begin applying them in our lives, our souls will be refreshed! Psalm 19:7-8 says “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Maybe your soul is weary or discouraged because you’ve been trying to handle difficult people and circumstances with your own wisdom. Maybe it’s time to search out God’s wisdom instead. For instance, if you are depressed about your husband’s continuing verbal abuse toward you and your children, maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for dealing with someone who is sinning against you. You might want to read Matthew 18:15-17.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a rebellious child who isn’t responding to your explanations about why he or she should listen to you. Maybe your soul will be refreshed as you read God’s instructions for molding your children into people of character. You might want to read Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
We are all so prone to dwell on what we don’t have. For instance, you might spend lots of mental time and energy longing for a more romantic husband. Or maybe you rehearse over and over again the many qualities your husband lacks! You may be a single woman reading this devotion, and you may be spending lots of energy and time trying to capture a man who can become your husband!
Here’s the thing. We can easily spend so much time focusing on what we don’t have…and trying to manipulate people and circumstances to get what we want…that we don’t even enjoy the many blessings God has actually given us. We can miss out on the life we have!
Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” You and I need to focus on the many things for which we can be thankful. What good people has God placed in your life? How has God provided for you? Dwell on those things and be thankful. When you stop focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll finally be able to truly enjoy all the blessings that you do have!
I don’t quite remember where I heard this, but it has stuck with me even though I heard it 20 years ago. Make it your aim to fill your house with so much love and joy that the laughter of your family bounces off the walls! Wow! Don’t we all want that? I know I do.
So how do we get there? I believe the Bible reveals several keys to bringing joy and laughter into our homes. First, choose an attitude of hope instead of dwelling on a big, hairy list of all the things that are wrong in your life! Proverbs 10:28 says “The hope of the righteous brings joy“. Second, eliminate some things from your schedule if you are becoming grumpy due to exhaustion and stress. Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” And third, have a sense of humor! Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine“.
Oh, and one more thing. If you are holding bitterness and resentment against your spouse, deal with that. If it is the result of something that happened a long time ago, you need to let it go!! If it’s the result of an ongoing pattern of sin against you, then you will need to respectfully confront your husband. Ongoing resentment will suck all the laughter and joy out of your home.
I seem to bump into quite a few women who seem to either struggle with discouragement and mild depression or simply feel unfulfilled. When it comes to both these conditions, there aren’t necessarily simple answers, but I do believe taking one particular step could bring significant help. That step is to get outside yourself and begin serving those less fortunate! Yes, really.
This is God’s instruction to us all. In fact, He says in Isaiah 58 that the kind of “fasting” that he desires is not to look all religious by denying yourself food or pleasure. Instead he desires us to “loose the chains of injustice…to share your food with the hungry…to provide the poor wanderer with shelter. He says “then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear” (Isaiah 58:8)
Is it time to stop focusing on what’s wrong with your circumstances and to look for opportunities to serve those in need all around you? I can almost guarantee that you WILL become more fulfilled when you begin helping others. Try it!
Sometimes, life just gets plain hard. You forget to pay a bill on time and get hit with a giant “late fee”. You catch your husband looking at pornography. You teenager lies to you. Your child accidentally drops an entire jog of milk on the kitchen floor. Ugh!
At times like these, it’s easy to feel weighed down. It’s so common for us to give into despair and depression. But instead of conceding defeat, we can regain our joy by practicing 3 things:
1) Recognize this is a scheme of the enemy to TRY to steal, kill or destroy your joy (John 10:10 “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy”). Don’t allow him to take you down!
2) Remind your soul of the enemy’s inability against our mighty God (1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”) *Sometimes I even laugh at Satan’s pitiful attempts to drag me down! I like putting him back in his place!
3) Trust that God will carry you through this challenge and even redeem the circumstances so that something good comes about in the long run. God is an expert at turning lemons into lemonade! (Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)