How to Rejoice by Choice on the Roller Coaster of Life
Make Your Life Mirror – How to Rejoice by Choice on the Roller Coaster of Life
It was every parent’s worst nightmare.
Our family slathered on the sunscreen and bolted into Busch Gardens, eager to start our day of adventure. Our senses were instantly overwhelmed by the sight of Clydesdale horses, the sound of a passing train, and the smell of funnel cake. I struggled with the map and turned to ask an employee a quick question. In the blink of an eye, he was gone. Our son Christian, not more than 6 or 7 at the time, had continued walking, enticed by his new surroundings. My husband and I began to scream his name while our daughter, Gabrielle, held tightly to my hand. “Christian! Christian!” It was nearly impossible to spot him in the sea of people crowding through the front entrance of the park. To our relief, the railroad tracks sign, lowered for the oncoming train, stopped him just 30 feet to our left. We scooped him up, took a deep breath and thanked God for His grace!
Christian was probably only missing for 30 seconds but it seemed like an eternity. Those short moments of losing my son were filled with sheer panic. If you’ve ever lost your way in the dark, lost your child in a store, or lost your wallet on an errand, you’ve experienced the sickening pit in your stomach that comes with losing something you hold dear. Over the past two weeks, I’ve battled a nasty virus I picked up on the plane to Israel. Adding insult to injury, I was plodding through a difficult relational situation. The brutal combination exhausted me physically, depleted me mentally, and drained me emotionally. Perhaps you’ve been there. Some days, or seasons, are just tough. I was losing something pretty valuable – something I’ve learned to hold dear – my joy.
Let me just note the irony of the fact that I’m completing my first manuscript on the book of Philippians. Wanna take a guess at the title? “Finding Joy When Life is Out of Focus.” Yeppers. I’m obviously still a work in progress. God knew we would experience times when a sea of issues crowds in on us, leaving us frantically searching for joy. The Bible tells us that the JOY of the Lord is our strength. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness could be defined as an attitude of satisfaction, based on our circumstance. There is an element of “chance” to it. We can’t plan it or program it. Too often we search for happiness in our job, financial status, or a relationship, looking for things to bring us fulfillment. Joy, on the other hand is not related to chance at all. Joy exists no matter what the situation or problem. Joy is a gift from God to those who believe, and it is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Maybe, like me, you wrestle not so much with how to receive joy, but how to maintain it. Perhaps you’re losing your joy on the roller coaster ride of life and you could use some keys in knowing how to rejoice by choice.
– Your marriage is in a rut and you’re discouraged or even heartbroken.
– Your finances aren’t taking the upturn you hoped they would.
– Your health has deteriorated and pain has become an unwanted companion.
Yet, no matter what, we have the power to rejoice by choice.
Philippians 1:1-6 shares the following:
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The word “Joy” is mentioned more times in this short book than anywhere else in Scripture. These few verses contain 5 keys to rejoice by choice on the roller coaster of life:
1. Rehearse the good things God has given you instead of rehearsing offenses. Phil. 1:1-3
When you’re tempted this week to rehearse wrongs, begin instead to rehearse God’s blessings in your life.
2. Redirect your prayers for others instead of praying only for your own needs. Phil. 1:4
Refocus your prayer life this week by praying for someone else. Who can you lift up in prayer?
3. Remember that you are not alone and get connected instead of isolating. Phil. 1:5
The enemy preys on isolation. Connect with a friend over coffee, join a Bible study, or find an exercise buddy.
4. Recognize God is the miracle worker instead of focusing on people’s deficiencies. Phil. 1:6
People will always disappoint you. Stop riding the roller coaster of lost joy by placing your eyes back on Jesus and off of people’s shortcomings. Jesus will never fail you.
5. Rebuild relationships instead of building barriers.
Give hope an open road in your heart and relationships. When bitterness nips at your heels, kick it to the curb with forgiveness.
“Make Your Life Mirror” God’s Word by applying the life-giving principles in Philippians 1:1-6. I LOVE me some Busch Gardens roller coasters, but nothing’s worse than riding life’s stomach-turning roller coaster of lost joy. This is a grand adventure we’re on, guys. Hold on tight, keep your eyes on Jesus, and rejoice by choice.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
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