Do you ever have those down days? Those days when you just find yourself in a funk. There’s no big thing going on to cause it, but you find yourself thinking Eeyore thoughts and everything seems just a bit negative. There’s a secret I believe that God wants to share with us to help us pick ourselves up and feel the joy again.
All sorts of things can contribute to a bad mood – lack of sleep, illness, hormonal changes, stress… Often the things that cause our moods are beyond our control.
Yet, if we’re not careful they can effect our attitude towards life, ourselves and those around us. Negativity has a tendency to spread outwards.
I have hurt the ones I love because I have let a bad mood affect my attitude and the words I say to them far more often than I dare to admit.
We may not be able to control the causes of our bad moods, but we can definitely control the way we deal with them and how they affect those around us.
So, we can hold on to our joy even when we are plagued with the negative emotions caused by our PMS.
So, we can hold on to our joy even when we have had a stressful day at work.
So, we can hold on to our joy even when we have nursed a sick child through the night and are deprived of sleep to face the next day.
I suffer from chronic sinusitis. One of the many symptoms this can cause is a deep-set irritation. I don’t know what the physiological cause is for this, it doesn’t necessarily accompany pain as you would expect. Maybe it’s down to a nerve being under pressure or something.
However, whatever the cause, when I’m suffering I find that just about everything gets on my nerves. I am constantly gritting my teeth and I find it incredibly difficult to show patience and tolerance towards the people around me.
Sinusitis is not my fault. I may not be able to do anything to alleviate the symptoms (unless God blesses me with healing for my condition) yet I can do something to combat that sense of frustration.
The book of Philippians gives us the secret to holding on to our joy even when things around us make life more difficult.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better, yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
The secret to his joy is in the order that Paul demonstrates his focus in this passage.
Paul’s number 1 priority is Christ.
To live is Christ, he tells us.
Jesus is at the centre of his life.
Everything else is secondary.
Yet, whilst his whole life is built on his love for Jesus and serving Him, he views his death as something which is even better. To die is gain. This is because he knows that he will be face to face with his beloved Saviour. He will be meeting His Lord once again.
The focus for Paul is not on his problems. Despite his imprisonment and the fact that he could be facing the death penalty, his attention is still firmly fixed on his love for God and he is able to keep his sense of the joy because of this.
The next focus of attention for Paul is his ministry towards others. He doesn’t dwell on his own problems because he constantly thinks and prays about those he cares for.
One of the best ways to forget about our own moods, problems and difficulties is to spend time thinking, caring for and praying about other people. In fact, it’s a recognised therapy for people suffering from depression.
It is only the third priority for Paul to think about himself. It is only after he has given his attention to Jesus and then to others that he thinks about himself.
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If we approach life, our thoughts, our time and our attention in this order we will find that we are able to deal with the ups and downs life throws at us much more easily and we will maintain the sense of perspective we need to hold on to our joy.
We can’t always control the problems we face in life but we can control how we deal with them – by remembering that the secret to joy is J.O.Y.
Part 5 – Problems? How to Cope
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