by Kathy Harris
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33 NLT
These red-letter words in John 16 are a reminder that, in this world, we will always have troubles. Jesus quickly reassures us, however, that He has overcome them. John 16:33 is one of many encouragement verses in the Bible. One online search yielded more than a thousand. Indeed, our Lord surely knew that we would need them.
With only a glance at today’s headlines, it’s easy to see that our world is struggling. Struggles have been a part of human existence since the exile from the Garden of Eden. And it didn’t take long for things to go south after that. Eve’s first born, Cain, slayed Abel, his youngest brother (Genesis 4). Still in Genesis, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37). And later in the Old Testament, Job lost everything except his life—and his faith (Job 1). Am I the only one who has always admired Job for his tenacity?
Just like Job, there are times when we will all need to dig a little deeper to find our joy. Here are a few of my favorite ways to do that.
Bring down the focus. Leave the big picture to God. Don’t try to solve the world’s problems. Instead, focus on little things. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning. The beauty of a butterfly’s wings. The glow of the last light before sunset.
I have a friend battling cancer who loves to capture the minutia of God’s creation through her nature photography. In doing so, Joy shares the majesty of God—and His love for us—by focusing on the small wonders of everyday life. Ladybugs on leaves. Hummingbirds sipping nectar from a vine. The beautiful brilliance of a redbird.
Turn up the music. Sing. If you enjoy worship music, sing praise songs. If you love old hymns, sing about the magnificence of God. If you love gospel and country music, harmonize.
When I was a little girl, my parents would sing in the car. To this day, that memory provides one of my greatest joys. I can still hear them harmonizing on “This World Is Not My Home,” a song attributed to A.P. Carter and Albert E. Brumley in the mid-1930s. Music endures.
Spend the day praising God. Thank Him for everything. The perfect parking place. Your safe drive home. Your husband. Your children. Your neighbor. Unknown blessings. Don’t hold back the praise.
A character in my 2012 novel, The Road to Mercy, notably said, “Praise God and you will eventually understand how many ways He should be fully praised.” That advice has rallied my personal faith during the hard times.
Find your sense of humor. Even some of the more frustrating situations in life have a lighter side. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others. I recently moved and, as anyone who has ever moved knows, it can be trying. Mostly trying to find the things you’ve lost somewhere in the massive stack of boxes in your living room. Family nearby has had to loan me everything from kitchen utensils to French fries. Yes . . . French fries.
Reach out to others. Sometimes even a smile can change a person’s day, including your own. As someone who lives in the South, I can almost guarantee you that nine out of ten of your checkout line conversations will be enlightening or inspirational. Usually both. Share the common bond of humanity and start a conversation.
Remember . . . stuff happens. Life will not always be perfect. Happiness comes and goes, but joy is the ever-present assurance that God has everything in control. Our hope is in Him.
“Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.” –Psalm 33:22 NLT
Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business where she works as a marketing director for The Oak Ridge Boys. Deadly Conclusion, the third book in The Deadly Secrets romantic suspense series, released November 1. Learn more about Kathy on her website.