(Whistle alert) A text message just came across my phone: "One year ago we gathered together to pray, visit with each other and wait...as Margaret's surgery was underway." Wow, a whole year has gone by, and this week marks the anniversary of answered prayer! We are so grateful to our Lord for His (yet again) faithfulness in our lives and to our dear friend Margaret. We have all been and continue to be blessed by her journey. God has taught her many faith lessons during her illness and as she continues to process what she has learned, she has been writing them down. We have asked her to share those lessons believing that they too will bless and encourage your heart! Restore Ministries welcomes Margaret Kemp to today's Monday Musings.
Fast forward a couple of decades to a time in my life when I really needed strength…..a time when I was weak from battling health problems. I needed emotional and spiritual strength to fight the fear that comes with illness, and I needed physical strength to overcome the nausea and pain brought on by my illness. At the time, the pastor of my church was preaching from the book of Philippians, which teaches us that we can have joy in all circumstances. My circumstances were certainly not joyful, but I learned that I could still find joy in my relationship with the Lord.
My illness required major surgery, and for a couple of weeks after I was discharged, I was housebound. On Sundays I grieved because I couldn’t go to church. Since I couldn’t attend church, I watched the service on line. Sitting on my sofa, I sang the worship songs along with the choir, and for a few brief moments, I forgot that I was hurting and simply praised.
I was uplifted. My spirit soared as I sang each chorus as loudly and clearly as I could. I delighted in hearing my voice blend with the voices around me. I was thrilled to be among God’s people once again. These were the people who prayed for me, sat in the waiting room of the hospital, brought me meals, texted and emailed to check on me. It was a joy to be with them in person again. It was a joy to be in the Father’s presence, to feel His Holy Spirit in that room. I completely forgot my aches and pains. I laid aside every fear or worry and instead focused on our awesome God. I felt strong. The joy of the Lord was my strength.
and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people,
‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’
For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.
Then he said to them, ‘Go your way.
Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready,
for this day is holy to our Lord.
And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8: 9-10
When we’re joyful,
our difficulties don’t seem so insurmountable.
Our work doesn’t feel like drudgery.
Merriment lightens our load.
- Music. Singing and music bring me joy. When I’m down, if I listen to Praise and Worship Music and begin singing along, my mood changes.
- Mindfulness. Choose to focus on what is good instead of what is wrong. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to worry about anything, but to pray about everything. Prayer is the remedy for worry, and Philippians 8 gives us the “vitamins” that help keep us spiritually healthy and worry-free: After we pray and entrust God with our problems, we should let our minds dwell on what’s RIGHT, not what’s wrong. We should focus on what’s TRUE, instead of listening to the damaging lies of the enemy. We should meditate on the LOVELY things, and we have only to look at creation to find many lovely things to appreciate. If there is anything WORTHY of PRAISE, ---and of course there are many praiseworthy things---we should let our minds dwell on these things.
- Jokes. Finding humor in my situation helped to lighten the load. It helps if I don’t take myself too seriously, if I can laugh at my problems and mistakes. I’m learning to change my image of Jesus, too. I used to picture Him as stern, or even sad (after all, He was called the Man of Sorrows), but now I imagine him as joyful. When He said, “Rejoice and be glad,” He probably had a smile on His face. (I found some smile-starters by doing a Google search for “Christian cartoons.”)
- Joyful people. Let’s face it; some people are just more upbeat than others. Some people are natural cheerleaders. They remind me that God is faithful, that even though life may be tough right now, things will get better. When I’m down, I seek out these cheerleaders. They make me laugh, and that’s good medicine!
“Though the fig tree does not bud
And there are no grapes on the vine,
Though the olive crop fails
And the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen
And no cattle in the stalls
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He enables me to go on the heights.” Hab. 3:17-19
Rejoicing in Him,
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