The other night I was praying with our kids as the day came to an end. We prayed about much, but one of the topics caught my attention. Joy, our oldest daughter, is spending her Saturdays this summer at the local Farmer's Market. She enjoys baking and awhile back mentioned the possibility of making and selling treats in town. Initially, the thought overwhelmed me a bit - we live 15 minutes out of town and she'd need a driver (most likely me) and the thought of all that baking made me nervous. Then I stepped back and appreciated my 15 year olds initiative, willingness to work and try something new.
Once we gave her the green light, she went to work. She did a trial run of a few recipes, made a shopping list and bought all her ingredients. She researched packaging supplies and determined her prices. She came up with a name for her little spot along the market trail - "A Bit of Joy."
On the eve of her 2nd market, I prayed for her. We asked God for good weather and I prayed for Him to help her bring a bit of joy to all those who bought her sweets.
As I prayed, I realized that was just what I needed. I needed joy. Cupcakes and pie may offer it temporarily, but Jesus provides it daily. And friend, don't we need joy today?
I'll admit, I've been a bit discouraged lately. Events in our world weigh on my heart and I'm guessing you find them heavy as well. But it goes beyond the death and tragedy, it's what is happening to our nation. There is division and fear. There seems to be a lack of listening. It's just hard. Sometimes I feel I have nothing to say and others I think somebody will be offended if I do.
The protests and riots, corona and covid have all changed things. For many our daily lives don't look like they did a year ago, but yet daily problems still exist. Some are experiencing financial stress, others relationship conflict and some parenting struggles. You can add your own personal trials.
This adds up to a problem that equals discouragement. So what do we do?
For me, the first answer is PRAY. I know I need to humble myself and cast my cares. God commands and encourages us to do this. He hears our prayers and listens to our heart. He wants us to connect with Him. We can do that thru prayer.
Another thing I must do now and always is READ the BIBLE. Information and opinions are readily available, but right now I need wisdom and that can be found in God's Word. The media offers updates constantly, but the Bible provides TRUTH continuously. I believe we need the Truth. Agree?
Doing these two things helps me SEEK GOD. It's pretty easy to turn on the news or open social media and look to see what is going on in the world. Everyone is ready to tell you their perspective, but friends it's God we need to look to. He's the One with the plan and the power. I must go to Him first and most. How about you?
Nehemiah 8:10b says, "Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." These words weren't spoken in what we would call a joyful moment. The people were grieving over sin and overcome with condemnation - can anyone relate?
Friend, if you are a born again believer of Jesus Christ, you aren't known by your sin. Your identity is a child of God. That is a reason to rejoice. When we step back and think about what our relationship with God through Christ really means our focus shifts, our discouragement dwindles and our motivation multiplies.
This spiritual joy opens the door for spiritual strength. I don't know about you, but I need some spiritual strength these days. It was true in Nehemiah's day and I believe it's true yet today - "The joy of the Lord is our strength."
If you are a sister in Christ, I encourage you to pause for a moment and focus on what is right in your world - your relationship with Jesus. It might be the only thing that is right, but it's all that really matters. Take some time and think about what Jesus provides - salvation and strength, peace and power, love and joy, and the list goes on. Thank Him. Ask Him for all you need.
If this talk of a relationship with Jesus is new, seek out a pastor or Christian friend, leave me a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe God brought you here for a reason. If you're looking for true, lasting joy you won't find it in a cupcake, but you will in Jesus. Open your heart to Him today.
You won't leave here satisfied like my daughter's customers, but I pray you walk away encouraged. I hope I've left you with a bit of joy and equipped you to find it again when you feel like it's faded away.
Heavenly Father, thank you for drawing us close. I'm grateful for who you are and all you do. I'm reminded that no matter what this day holds or how the world changes, you remain the same. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit - grow that in me Lord. Help me share true joy with those around me. May I be strengthened as I rejoice in all you have done. Thank you Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.