"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3. "A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER." John Keats, Poet
A friend of mine called me the other day and asked whether I had ever just reflected on and evaluated life. Wow! I was so glad he asked. In fact, I was in the process of doing just that when he called. There have been so many times that I have found myself pondering the intricacies of existence and trying to decipher the goings on in my life. So that you do not think I am so deep as to have obtained complete understanding of all things life, I will tell you that my finite mind always comes to the same conclusions. We are God's creation, the world and all that is in it belongs to Him, and we will have to consult His word for answers and conduct ourselves accordingly. It is what it is. "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." 1 Corinthians 10:26.
However, I do think that I have something to say about Joy. Rather, I have learned a few things while walking (very slowly sometimes) through some tough things that have manifested in my life. The choices open to me were varied; from deep depression to joyful gratitude. Well, joy was the better choice. Why you might ask? Because the other options would not change what has already happened. Further, by deliberately choosing joy, I am in alignment with the word of God; and I can rest assured that joy is sustainable. This past Sunday, my Pastor, Rev. Norman Coleman preached on the subject of Biblical Faith. He described Biblical Faith as a position of unshakable faith. You are able to see beyond the visible to the invisible. The person/s who exhibits this faith can see, understand and accept that God is in control of their entire lives, and believes that everything that comes to them is from the hand of God. Please take a moment and process this. You have this omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign, loving, holy, eternal, immutable God, who filters what He allows in your life and will be right there to bring you through. I don't know about you, but that is why I choose joy.
There are some people, however, who may not relate to or even be amenable to the idea of letting go of their lives to trust anyone or anything other than themselves. My question to you is: Has this brought you peace? You can rethink this or not. Most people want to be happy or to experience joy. There is a difference. Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different.
Joy vs. Happiness:
Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are, and how you are.
Happiness tends to be externally triggered and based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.
The main problem with happiness is that without certain things, you may not experience it. But, joy can be felt even if you are penniless and/or homeless. Sounds a little nutty right? Let's look at the apostle Paul's situation in the scripture noted above. He was the victim of character assassination (although a messenger of the truth), shipwrecked, imprisoned, abandoned by friends while imprisoned, was given a thorn in his flesh that he could not remove, among the many sufferings he endured. You might ask, How can anyone be content under these conditions? The key is that Paul learned to be content. He was not born that way; neither are we. But, we too, can learn to be content.
Let's face it, there are going to be some things that we are confronted with that are beyond our control. We cannot change that, but we can choose how we respond. Some people will say that they see the "glass half full" and some see the "glass half empty." The one who sees the glass half full will see hope, the other who sees it half empty, will see little or no hope. The person of faith will always experience hope because they know who "filled the glass." You see, Paul knew who was in control and he could do all things through the one who was in control and gives him strength. Philipians 4:13. And, so he decided not to worry, but to choose contentment.
Recently, I saw a movie that confirmed for me that joy is exclusive of what you have on the outside, but rather what is on the inside: "Saint Josephine Bakhita: From Slave to Saint." Born into freedom in Sudan, located in Northeast Africa; Bakhita was later kidnapped by slave traders, sold into slavery several times over, severely beaten many times over, discriminated against because of her skin color, and mocked. Bakhita (a name given to her by one of her captors) was able to forgive and to serve others unselfishly with the love of God even while enslaved. She eventually won her freedom in a court in Italy (where she was taken after she was purchased by a Venetian man). There she became a nun with the Canossian Daughters of Charity. She was finally canonized on October 1, 2000, by Pope John ll and became Saint Josephine Bakhita. When asked about those who kidnapped her, she responded; "If I were to meet those who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian." That is unspeakable joy! She continued, "The Lord has loved me so much: We must love everyone...We must be compassionate." Saint Bakhita's humble spirit is a joy forever.
Her life shows how freeing faith can be. Through getting to know God in a personal, intimate way, she was able to put an awful past behind her and live a life full of joy from that point onwards.
What about us? Can we live a life of joy? How? Here are some suggestions:
1. Stop waiting for your circumstances to change in order to be happy. Choose to be joyful now! Who knows what tomorrow will bring. It might get better or it might get worse. Being gloomy and pessimistic will only add to the unhappiness you feel. Instead assess what you do have and be grateful for that. My grandmother did not lie when she said to: "Count your blessings, somebody is always worse off. Be thankful." Choose gratitude. It is the beginning of joy. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
2. Change your mind about what you think you are entitled to. You are not entitled to anything. I know you are going to get a little puffed up about this. But, really, what did you create all by yourself? Think about it; you did not even create yourself (smile). When you see everything as a gift, you will begin to understand how blessed you are by the Creator. One of those gifts is the ability to choose joy in spite of what is going on in your life. Find joy in the little things like a sunrise or a sunset. Start each day with a smile, grateful for the opportunity to rise (do not take this for granted) from your bed. Choose to be positive and prayerful, giving thanks to the one who makes all things possible. Replace "entitled to" with "thankful for." You will be wiser and filled with joy. Job 38:4-7.
3. Select carefully those that you allow in your life. I learned early in life to watch the "company you keep." At the time that I was taught this, I did not quite grasp its meaning. But, I have since come to understand people can negatively influence your life even if you do not see it happening, and you should not be around these types for obvious reasons. They might introduce misery into your life; they are sometimes referred to as killjoys. Make sure that those you surround yourself with are folks of good repute, like minded; and people who stand for something. They should be people who are positive, who have goals and who care about themselves and others. It is almost impossible to follow (or be friends with) someone who you think is a role model, but whose outlook on life is the total opposite of yours. Instead of a meeting of the minds, you might have a change of mind (that would be your mind and joy will not be in the equation). "Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals." 1 Corinthians 15:33.
4. Take care of yourself. It is hard to be joyful when you are experiencing lots of pain. Yes, sometimes our bodies will let us down, but let's not be the cause of this by neglecting ourselves. Eat healthy, exercise, drop bad habits (you know what they are), and make and keep doctors' appointments. Good health is a source of joy; just knowing that you are doing all you can to obtain and maintain optimal health also brings joy. Get to it! 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Joy, once obtained, never let anyone steal it! Here's to choosing joy and living it out come what may!!!
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!
UPCOMING ONE-DAY CONFERENCE RETREAT- OCTOBER 26, 2019, AT THE HYATT IN CROSS COUNTY, YONKERS, NY
Have you ever felt that you had something to share that will benefit others? Well, all my life I have been told, and I know that it is true, God has a plan for my life. My late grandmother would tell me often, "God has something for you to do." Throughout my life, I wondered what this could be. In my humble estimation, the only way for me to realize this plan is to step out on faith and begin to put the talents and gifts that God has endowed me with to use to help and encourage others. I, like so many others, have lacked the confidence to take the steps needed to walk in my God given potential. Well, I am now ready to step up to the plate and live my blessed life. Hence, this conference retreat. Since coming to this awakening, I am now a published author, feature a monthly blog, have written several short stories, and I am midway into the writing of my second novel. Further, I have a regular fitness trainer; have lost weight and practice good nutrition. Did I do this all by myself??? The answer is NO.
I am anxious to share with you how you can you fully maximize the talents, skills and gifts that God has showered you with to live your blessed (best) life. Come join me in a beautiful space; let's break bread together (full buffet breakfast, lunch and snacks), receive some tools from those in the know on how to set and follow goals, and to take care of yourself physically and spiritually. Also, just to enjoy the fellowship. You are never too old, and it is never too late to actualize the goodness that God has in store for you. Your presence would be greatly appreciated, and you will be better for it. Thank you. Watch for more information on Facebook and for a soon to be released flyer. Thank you. God bless.
You can reply to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.