I generally do not react well when hit by the unexpected. Unexpected events have typically not been happy ones in my experience, so I like to know what is happening and when. (Talk about an unrealistic goal!) Even today, when unexpected events hit my life, I tend to respond with worry and fear rather than peace and joy. It has become almost a default setting, but it’s not a default that my heavenly Father ever planned for me to have. I’m learning how to walk with true peace and joy, and today I’d like to tell you about my most recent step in this adventure.
Last Friday, I got some potentially bad news: a family member who lives two states away was admitted to the hospital and was likely to have a procedure on Saturday. I was very concerned for him, and started praying about whether or not I should make the drive to be there.
“No,” said Jesus, “I’ve got this. Just let My peace settle over you.”
In spite of His words, I didn’t let the peace settle over me right away. I realized a couple of hours later that I was fretting about it, so I reached out to my husband and to a trusted friend or two to be praying for me to have that peace. I remember thinking, “And today started out to be such a good day, so full of joy, and NOW look at it!”
It was at that point that the Lord broke into my thoughts. “You can still have joy today, Liz. You just have to pick it.”
“Really?” I thought. “That’s all I have to do?” I started reflecting over why I hadn’t received His peace when He first offered it to me and why I wasn’t picking to have joy. Why was I choosing to fret instead of trusting Him to take care of my loved one and receiving the peace that He offered? I realized that my false “default setting” of picking worry and fear had come into play, and I decided that I’ve had enough of choosing those things.
“Okay, Jesus,” I said out loud. “I trust You with his care. I choose peace. I choose joy today.”
A couple of hours after making that declaration, I realized that I did have joy and peace! It wasn’t something that I had to try to manufacture, and it didn’t mean that I didn’t care about the situation. It just was a choice to focus on Jesus instead of on the circumstance. What a blessing! I did continue to ask trusted friends to pray for the Lord to heal my family member, but my requests came from a settled place in my heart instead of from a place of worry.
The next morning, I called my family member to try to talk and pray with him before he had his procedure. Lo and behold, my call was greeted with the news that he had improved so much overnight that he was being released from the hospital and would not have to have a procedure after all! What great news that was, and what evidence of God’s goodness.
Some of the following verses are probably familiar to you. I have been familiar with them, too, but they have a new meaning for me now:
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
From now on, I’m choosing peace and joy. 🙂
Below is a link to a video of a popular contemporary Christian song called “joy” by the group For King and Country. I hope that it will encourage you today.