Standing in Truth
You know the gist: We wake up in the morning, and before our feet hit the floor, we have thoughts running through our mind that are telling us how to feel. Sometimes we listen, already anxious for the day that's ahead, already defeated by the image we'll see in the mirror, already sad about the state of our circumstance. We have two choices: Listen to the lies, or speak truth back at them.
I would argue that the latter is the far more effective way to dwell in joy - but I know it's not always easy. The first step in this plan of attack is being able to spot and take captive those sneaky little lies or even half-truths that have snuck into our minds. For example, my most common half-truth that seems to constantly be shouting in my head is: "You're beautiful because God made you, but you'd be so much prettier if you lost those ten more pounds. Think how happy you'll be when your pants fit better!"
Sneaky. Almost true - because, yes, God did make me in His image and sees me as beautiful. And if the thought stopped there, we'd all be much more confident! But the other half of the thought is that I cannot be joyful, content, confident - until I lose the weight, look better in shorts, workout more.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples about abiding in John 15, He explains the correlation of His word and our joy:
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11
So how do we practice dwelling in the complete joy He's offered to us through His living and active Word? I'm a journaler, so it helps me to physically write down the thoughts that have snuck in and scratch them out! I am reminded of God's freedom through this action, then I write down the Scripture that I need to claim in it's place. I carry those verses around and meditate on them whenever I find myself slipping back into the wrong belief of the old thoughts.
The goal is not to worship Scripture in this process -- the goal is to know Jesus more through His word, so that we may worship Him in Spirit and in Truth regardless of how we feel that day. I love this quote by Elisabeth Eliott:
Worship is not an experience. Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship 'in spirit and in truth.' Never mind about feelings. We are to worship in spite of them. -Elisabeth Eliott
Below are some examples of this - and I would love to hear what Scriptures you are clinging to as replacement of those old thoughts.
To the friend who believes that joy, contentment, or satisfaction can only be found in a relationship, or feels unheard and forgotten by the Lord in this season of singleness:
· God loves you with His steadfast love. Psalm 136
To the friend who longs to be a mom, but struggles with infertility or the pain of a miscarriage, and believes that joy and fulfillment are constantly out of reach with each passing month, or that you are missing out on the joy in this life until you're a mother:
· God is at work in the waiting. This season is not meant to be rushed through. Lamentations 3:25-26
To the friend in the deep pit of depression, hurting more each day and wracked with anxiety, believing that this will forever be your lot in life, or that life is not worth living:
· He has called you daughter and you are no longer slave to fear. Romans 8:15
· You can rejoice that He keeps you in perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3
· God will not let you go from His hand. Isaiah 41:13
To the friend exhausted from striving for perfection and the acceptance of man, tired of not being "enough" and feeling constantly like a disappointment, too much to handle, or just unworthy:
· You are already accepted today, as you are in Christ. 1 Peter 2:9
To the friend with a failing marriage, or children who are distant from God and from you, to the lost and hurting, to the woman who looks in the mirror and hates what she sees, to the woman who is lonely, sick, sad, suffering, believing that there will never be hope and that your circumstances are defining your life:
· God is near to the brokenhearted. Psalm 34:18
· God is strong in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
· God does not cast off forever. Lamentations 3:31
· God works all things together for our good and His glory. Romans 8:28
Just like we saw in 2 Chronicles 20:12 on the blog post Monday – Jehoshaphat prayed this beautiful explanation of joy: “WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU”. Let's remember these foundational truths and listen to the joy that they bring, rather than believing the lies of our enemy.
· God's love for you is bigger than your circumstance, and better than this life, friends. Psalm 63:3
· His steadfast love endures forever, so that in this we might recognize and receive His grace. Psalm 136:1
· We can rejoice in the Lord's provision. Philippians 4:19
· We know that all the promises of God find their yes in Jesus – so we can say yes to JOY even when we hear no in this life. 2 Corinthians 1:20
· We say yes to peace and abundant life in Christ. John 10:10
· We say yes to grace and yes to freedom. Galatians 5:1