Finding Joy in Hard Times
When I was little, life was hard for my Mama. She was born in 1935 and only went to school through the second grade. She worked full-time picking cotton. She married her first husband at fourteen and gave birth to a son when she was fifteen.
They lived in California, Chicago, and other states for her husband’s job. They ended up having another son but shortly after divorced. After that, my Mama moved back to Des Arc and married my Daddy. Daddy raised Mama’s boys like they were his own. They had three more boys and then me. Daddy worked on a farm, and Mama had odd and end jobs.
Sadly, my parents got divorced when I was a toddler. My Mama and I moved to Biscoe while my Daddy stayed in Des Arc with my youngest brother, Alvin. Four of my brothers were older and out of the house by that time. I was a late baby – born eleven years after my youngest brother.
Wow, five boys and one girl, Mama was so happy! She didn’t care that she was pushing forty and Daddy was pushing forty-five. She finally had her girl!
I don’t know what caused the divorce. It’s not for me to speculate. All I know is that both my parents loved me dearly, and I had a wonderful childhood.
We were poor, and that’s one thing I didn’t know. I had no idea that Mama worked two jobs just to put food on the table. I did not know that she went without, so I could have things. I had no idea that Mama didn’t have enough money for meat to go with dinner some days. I thought the hoecakes she made were delicious! Mama could make flour and water taste like a gourmet cake!
Even with all her struggles, Mama was not a sad person. If she was, she didn’t display that to me. She displayed joy. Happiness. Thankfulness. If only I could be half the woman she was!
Mama had her trials. That’s a given. People today also have their trials. There’s so much sickness, sorrow, hardships, and pain – we see it every day much more because of social media. We know what’s happening in real-time now. We don’t have to wait for a letter or breaking news. We see it.
It can be hard to not let those things affect us mentally. I get it. I find myself crying more often as I see bad things happening to people I love on social media.
I know I’m not the only one – right? Do you allow the news and/or social media to affect your mental health?
Are you happy one minute, then you see something sad and, boom, you’re suddenly down in the dumps?
I would daresay it happens to all of us.
So, the question is, how can we get past it? What can we do? What do we do when we see so much negativity? Keep reading for a few ideas!
First of all, we can be Joyful
Philippians 4:4 tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
Paul says to rejoice in the Lord. But wait a minute, he doesn’t just say rejoice. He says to rejoice in the Lord always.
Always. Read with me the definition of always as given by Merriam-Webster:
Definition of always
1: at all times: INVARIABLY
3: at any rate: in any event
Rejoice in the Lord at all times. Rejoice in the Lord forever. Rejoice in the Lord at any rate and in any event. Kinda puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?
Life is about making choices. We choose to be happy, or we choose to be miserable.
Read that again and make a choice.
Clench your jaw and determine that you will not allow circumstances to dictate how you feel. Determine that you will have joy in your life, even during hard times.
Why? Because Jesus died for our sins. Because we have the hope of a home in Heaven when our lives are over. Because of all the blessings we have in this life and the world to come!
Secondly, we can be prayerful
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Feeling down? Struggling to find happiness? Pray about it. Pray to God and allow Him to give your heart peace.
Thirdly, Meditate on These Things
Philippians 4:8 is clear, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
I go to this verse quite often in my daily life. I think about this verse when I feel down or upset or if something has me aggravated. Then I do what it says.
I promise you that your life will not be wasted if you follow Paul’s advice. As a matter of fact, your life will be better.
And last but not least, turn social media off for a while.
Remember, there were times and occasions when Jesus needed time. Uninterrupted time with His Father.
Mark 1:35: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
The same is true with you and me today. We need more uninterrupted time with our Father, to talk to Him, to pour our hearts out to Him, to find comfort in His words, and solace in His presence.
When was the last time you went out alone to pray? To spend time with your Father? Why not take time to do it now?
Your Christian walk can start here and now. Look at the examples left to us by the early Christians and act!
1. Hear the Gospel. (Romans 10:17, John 8:32)
2. Believe the Gospel (Hebrews 11:6, John 20:31)
3. Repent of past sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30)
4. Confess faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10, Matthew 10:32)
5. Be Baptized (Galatians 3:27, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38)
6. Be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10)
As always, I am here to study any time. Day or night! I pray for peace. Always.
In Christian Love,
This is me and Mama in Biscoe, Arkansas at the Dairy Bar. She worked here for many years, and I blame this place for my love of ice cream. :)