“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12
“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.” -Robert Schuller
- Don’t forget to call your prayer partner today. Godly friendships are one of life’s greatest joys!
- Take a moment to appreciate your family and the blessings God has given you. Get cozy with a Bible and your journal. Treasure this special time with your Father.
- Read Romans 12 and write verse 12 in your journal.
Joy in Hard Times
We’re spending these 40 days focusing on joy, but what if you’re going through a time of trial or dealing with heartache? Friends, if this is you, now is the perfect time to ponder the peace and joy of God!
Set aside back-to-school busyness, and spend quality time with the Lord. Take care of your heart through prayer and quiet time before tackling your to-do list. There is nothing wrong with putting everyday tasks on the back burner while you shift your focus to leaning on your Savior in prayer.
Recently, during a season of struggle, God kept pushing me to find joy in my trials instead of forcing joy in spite of those trials. In doing so, I learned the true meaning of being joyful in hope. By definition, hope is looking towards something that hasn’t yet happened. To be joyful in hope is to thank God for that messy and difficult hardship that is bringing you to your knees in prayer. It is having faith that, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him,” even when your situation doesn’t seem to be working out at all (Romans 8:28 BSB).
During this time, God taught me that you don’t need to downplay your struggles; in Christ’s power and provision, you can face them head-on, filled with joy because your hope in Christ is greater than any present struggle.
When we read the Scriptures, we see the Israelites awaited the Messiah’s arrival from a very dark place and time in history. God’s Word promised a Deliverer, the King of all kings, the Prince of Peace, while their reality was oppression under a brutal Roman dictator. As baby Jesus was learning to walk and talk, King Herod was overseeing the slaughter of all Jewish infants. As Jesus grew into a man, Satan attacked the nation with unprecedented plagues and demonic possession. However, Jesus’s light was all the more evident when contrasted with the dark world in which He lived. God called His people to overlook the fear and pain around them, cling to His promises, and accept their Holy Savior.
As Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds gathered around baby Jesus that first Christmas, they gazed into the face of a helpless baby and clung to God’s Word. They didn’t know how this baby would fulfill all that God had promised, but they trusted His Word and held it deep within their hearts. If we exercise our faith and hope in the dark times- just as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’s first followers did- joy will see us through to the light.
If we truly live as though, “The joy of the Lord is our strength and our shield,” then life’s inevitable trials and hardships will not be so devastating (Psalm 28:7). We know that, “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Be intentional about focusing on the unseen glory and love of God, growing in strength and love. If you do that by dancing to worship music in your living room, that’s great; but if you do it by focusing on a few powerful Bible verses or simply spending more time in prayer, that’s great too. Whatever your life may look like right now, may your faith, hope, joy, and love grow in tandem and bring your heart closer to your beloved Creator.
Questions to Ponder:
- Think of the hardships in your life in which you leaned on God in prayer. What good came out of it? Thank God for those difficult times and the good that came from them.
- Are you in a good place- a season in which joy comes naturally? Thank God for the trials that got you there. Look for God’s hand in your life’s struggles, and note how God used those struggles to guide you into peace.
- “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him,” (Romans 8:28). Do you truly believe this verse? Ask God for wisdom to understand your hardships and what good they are accomplishing.
Prepare yourself for spiritual warfare before it comes. When hard times strike, we often feel confused or anxious, unable to look past our own emotions. Write down verses that remind you of God’s presence and provision now, and keep them in a special place in your journal or phone to serve as a reminder when you need them. The verses throughout this study provide a great starting point. So does Job 36:15: “But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Add encouraging Bible verses to the list regularly.