There are so many times in life when things do not go as we had hoped – we don’t win the game or we have a bad day. In these moments, it can be really difficult to keep our chin up and look for the good. In fact, it can be the last thing that we want to do. But Jesus calls to us “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Jesus does not wish for us to look for the worst outcome. He gave everything on the cross so that we may live our life to the fullest. This obviously does not mean that life is going to be easy, but if we listen to what Jesus says in the Gospel and cling to Him as our hope, then He can and will help carry our burdens. Life is much easier when we put it in God’s hands. Numerous times throughout scripture, God is “stretching out His hand” to those who are in need. When we receive it, then we allow His joy to fill our hearts.
The joy Jesus offers completely changes our outlook on circumstances. It equips us to see issues as opportunities to grow and serve, rather than barriers that hold us back. This idea of living life uninhibited is something we feel so strongly about as we Run Free this summer. Having a spirit of rejoicing allows us to have a servant’s heart and live out our Kamp motto of “I’m Third.” We want to equip you with five practical ways to find joy, even when you face difficult situations.
1. There is power in prayer! Bring your thoughts and concerns to God. Dialogue with Him about why you are upset and where your heart is. You do not have to have the perfect answer. God loves you and wants your sincere heart. Simply visualize placing them in His hands and let Him take care of it.
2. Make a list of what you are thankful for. God has richly blessed each of us! You are going to Kamp, and you are deeply loved. Take time everyday to write down what you are most thankful for. When we pause to reflect on what God has done in our lives in the past and present, recognizing all the goodness that is in our lives, it fosters a heart of gratitude.
3. Serve someone else to get perspective. I’m third. This is something that we focus on all the time at Kamp, but you don’t need to wait until Kamp to live it out. It can begin today. When we serve others, we get a glimpse of their reality and it helps put things into perspective. Practice this by helping out at home or look for an area in your community that is in need. Serving also connects us with the heart of God whose love and servant heart is always working on our behalf.
4. Marvel at His creation.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?”—Psalm 8:3-4
When we go outside and simply observe nature, it reminds us of the God who created everything. He upholds seasons and cares for every living thing. They are beautiful and testify to His constant hand which upholds all things. Rejoice and be in awe of His creative mind and caring heart.
5. Know that He’s a good Father and want’s us to grow. Just as we read in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” we know God works things together in a greater plan. We cannot always see the outcome, but we can trust Him that even in the hardest times, He’ll be with us. Approaching life with this perspective helps us push through harder times when hope is more of a stretch. By this, we develop into strong, mature Christians leaders.
For example, when we experience failure or loss, it develops a deeper appreciation of the joy that comes with winning, and a humility to congratulate the other team. When we face situations that require perseverance, like a hard season on the soccer field or a school year with friends who seem to be far away, we learn how to get back up.
James reminds us in 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We need physical, spiritual and mental endurance to Run Free after life and the plan that God has for each one of us, not just this summer but for the rest of life.
Rejoicing always helps us to have a good attitude towards all circumstances. It also allows us to live our life to the fullest and fight the good fight.
What are some other practical ways that help you rejoice?