Last post talked about days I trudge through mud. I don’t want the implication to be that we just have to wait for joy to come back to us – I am just saying there are days when joy seems to be there waiting for me when I wake up, and others I really have to fight against a dark cloud.
So what are the things I do to fight?
What are some of the weapons against mental oppression for me?
Some of the following seem obvious – but when you are tempted to lose that joy that is your rightful inheritance, how many of these do you honestly try?
1. Immediate thankfulness
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Getting woken up every morning instead of getting to wake up naturally, and often before dawn can set off the irritability button, so I try and make a conscious effort to fight that automatic negativity with thankfulness:
Thank you my child is alive, healthy and ready for the day!
Thank you for the birds singing outside my window!
Thank you that I was able to get some rest last night!
2. Priorities straight
No other gods, only me. – Exodus 20:3 (MSG)
I have made it my priority to have a quiet time with God every morning. Basically because if I do, I feel empowered to get through the day and the day is in line with what God is doing. When I don’t, I feel like I am struggling against the waves all day, I’m irritable and directionless. For me now, this is a non-negociable because I just can’t live without it.
3. Praise first
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.- Psalm 34:1
I always try and start my quiet time off focusing on God. I know this sounds obvious, but trust me, there have been days I have dived into my bible reading or a book without taking the time first to focus on God, on who He is and then actually ask Him what he wants me to do in my quiet time. Praising first (whether that be sticking a worship song on, writing a list of thank you’s, reading a praise psalm or simply declaring who God is) makes all the difference to the feel of my quiet time. It has focus and direction.
4. Continual prayer throughout the day
Pray continually – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
I try and maintain an internal dialogue with God in my head throughout the day and ask Him what He is doing on each thing. I try and keep focusing on Him, especially when my mind just wants to grumble or my body wants to sink into the sofa cushions!
5. Having scriptures around the house
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts…Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates. – Deutoronomy 6:6;9
One of the ways I have really been able to get through the day when I am tired, sick, irritable or verging on depression is to remember some key verses. To keep them in mind, I have posted them opposite the toilet!
2 Corinthians 9:8 has been invaluable. It says: And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work (ASV)
So if He is able to give me everything I need, then I needn’t think I can’t get through the day because of only 3 hours sleep or that I need to cancel the prayer meeting because I am too tired to lead it, or lock my children in a room in front of the television because I am too irritable to be with them! If His Word says He will supply me with everything I need to do what I need to do then I’ll call on that grace instead! Because otherwise I would get nothing done. (I’m not saying don’t have good rhythms of rest, because I really believe we are COMMANDED to rest, but I’m saying there are days, even when you do everything you can to rest, the devil will try and undermine you (3am-5am baby playtime, preschooler’s 3rd nightmare of the night…) and stop you from doing God’s work in the day.) Sometimes I just need to remember that God knows how much sleep I had last night or how much money in is my bank account and He still asks me to be obedient, not because of me, but because of HIM!
6. Getting someone else to pray for me
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, againstthe powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
There are times when I find it difficult to engage in prayer. Times I don’t want to read the bible, and times I just want to crawl back into bed (but I can’t!). Despite fighting to do the above list, I still feel a heaviness over me. Although I don’t like putting people out, I recognize that I NEED to ask people to pray for me at times and just pray for the heaviness to lift and for Christ’s peace to fill me. I need to remember people want to help me and want to pray for me, and step out of my comfort zone and just ask. And sometimes ask again the next day. And the next. Until it lifts. We are not meant to live Christianity alone. We are soldiers in an army and sometimes we get injured or attacked and we need others to stand with us and declare the truth over us. We were never meant to fight alone.
Can you think of any other practical ways we can keep joy in our minds?