The waves may be tossing all around us, but we can maintain our joy and peace. Last week’s article focused on the way our belief changes our perspective about challenges.
Today I am sharing some of the things that helped to strengthen my faith, align my thoughts and actions with my belief and helped me to endure and live joyfully, despite the circumstance.
Important Note: nothing is easy, few things are instantaneous and enduring life’s ups and downs is all in the practice of living out your faith.
1. Talk with God – It starts in your heart
Even when your lips can’t form the words, God knows your heart. His Word says that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings that cannot be uttered. Simply, saying “Lord help me” right there in your heart is a powerful prayer. I read somewhere a long time ago that prayer (the spoken words) requires faith, but faith does not need words. Sometimes all that you can manage is the cry of your heart. Your belief starts in your heart!
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Roms 10:10)
Your faith is activated in the depths of your heart. If your mouth is saying it, but your heart doesn’t believe it, then stop. Ask yourself the tough questions about what is inhibiting your faith, then ask God to help to increase your faith. Be honest, say ‘Father God, I’m struggling in this area and I don’t even know if I believe that it will change. Help me, help me to believe. Show me your will and help me to receive what you say’. Our Father wants us to talk with Him, about everything. No, He does not get fed up with you asking; no, He doesn’t think its insignificant; and yes, He still wants you to talk to Him, even when you find yourself in the same cycle of sin again. Yes, He loves you unconditionally and is so happy when you talk to Him.
What is your difficult decision today? Are you ill? Are you lonely? Do you have big dreams and feel stuck?
Have you prayed about it? Do you continually pray about it? Have you been honest with God about how you feel? Is your will clouding His way? Pray…all the time, in your heart and with your mouth and know that God hears you and loves you too much to leave you in that place.
2. Help Someone Else
Do you recall these lyrics: “no matter what you’re going through, somebody is suffering more than you”. Not only is it a fact of life but it is a good reminder to get your mind off yourself. Others, others, others! Help, help, help! Give, give, give! Encourage someone else!
Purposefully look for someone to help. Keep your ears alert to hear when someone needs a little support. Grab a friend and visit persons in the hospital or a senior citizens home (at least when Covid-19 allows that again) and you may realise that although your circumstance may be rough, there are persons who may be in worse positions and who even manage to keep their smiles.
Let us not be so consumed with our own problems that we cannot see when someone is reaching out to us. I know the world says that you are to take care of yourself first, but the bible says that we must help our brothers and sisters, even if it is to our disadvantage (or in this case, even if you too are hurting).
Luke 3:10-11 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3. Sing and Praise
There is nothing like a good praise session to get you out of a funk.
Story: During a job interview one of the panelists asked me how I dealt with stress. I responded, “I sing and I pray”. That was my answer, even at the risk of sounding “too religious” in a professional environment. My response was quick, precise and most importantly, it was true. Praising your troubles away isn’t a cliché, it works. It reminds you of how good God was and still is to you. Two of my favourite “out of a funk” hymns are “Count your blessings” and “Great is thy faithfulness” 😊.
You should know though, that what you allow into your ears and your eyes, significantly impacts what you think, what you think will impact how you feel and ultimately, the way you approach your circumstance. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t as “right” and committed to your faith as you know you should be; fill your mind with inspiring and uplifting words. Listen to more gospel, it’s in all genres now, the lyrics are what matters. Let the words speak truth into your life, let it inspire and encourage you. I recall during a season of hurt, rejection and uncertainty, I repeatedly listened to a song called “Let Jesus Row” by a Trinidad & Tobago Gospel artist named J Prince, for more than a month. It truly ministered to me by continually reminding me that God was in control and that I could trust Him.
Choose to turn off the news and radio stations that fill you with dread, worry, self-hate and anxiety. Instead, stop, breathe and allow the power of Holy Words to soothe, revive and refresh you! The word of God is infused with a supernatural power to lift you out of despair and cause you to smile and sing amid any storm. Your calm and faith-filled response may surprise even you.
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. (John 4:14)
What do you read or listen to on your lunch break? What type of programs do you watch? This posture of praise that I speak of is not just for Sunday mornings. Sing every day, all day.
This is my motto when my thoughts and emotions seem to be raging out of control, “Raise the volume above the thoughts in your head”. I put on my music so loudly, that I cannot hear my own thoughts. Don’t just sit by and let the stress and the negative thoughts wear you out. Praise, praise and praise some more. Having a melodious voice is not a prerequisite either 😊.
I recommend that you do more than just listen to the music though, I suggest that you sing the words also; let it seep into your heart, allow your ear to hear what your mouth is saying and SING! This keeps you in constant awareness of God’s presence. It’s okay, let your friends and family look at you strangely, as you sing your stress away. When you walk into your office building, instead of feeling the weight of the impossible deadlines and difficult customers, in your heart and softly from your lips you’ll be singing “God is a good God, yes He is, God is a good God, yes He is, He picked me up and He turned me around and he plants my feet on higher ground”. 😊
As a start, I recommend two simple songs from way back in the Sunday School days: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and “Yes Jesus loves me”.
(By the way, I was offered and accepted the position from that job interview and it proved to require much singing and praying 🤣)
4. Hope. Hold on to your Hope.
Our victory is won. We have overcome, and we will endure. Hope in Jesus and trust in Him. Through every circumstance, your hope is your anchor that this life and its difficulties are not forever; it will pass away.
Christ has promised us deliverance in this life and the Hope of eternal life. Your perspective of faith tells you that these difficulties are temporary and that there is more to look forward to when we are reunited with our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
Hope, that there is more than working and sleeping; laughter and tears; and sunshine and rain. There is eternal life…and this is sure. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-4)
You overcome this roller coaster life because to those who overcome he gives the crown of life (James 1:12). So as King Solomon advised: enjoy life, all of it. Eat, drink and be merry. I say, ride the waves, the highs and the lows. Keep your peace and keep your joy. Fear God and keep your eyes fixed on Him.
We KNOW that we have an anchor that keeps our souls steadfast and sure, while the billows roll!
I cannot tell you that I have any personal experience with terminal illness, a sick child or sexual abuse. However, I can tell you that I have been low, really low. When heart ache so debilitating came rushing in and threatened to stop my blood flow… GOD! I believed his word, with all my heart. I prayed and cried out to him in my heart. I sang praises to Him with tears streaming down my face and I never looked back. He continues to lavish his love and goodness upon me. So I praise Him, at all times, good or bad, up or down, I praise Him.
You will have great times and you will have hard times, prepare yourself, practice living a bountiful life, be joyous, be victorious; be an overcomer.
And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. (Rev 12:11)