How Do I Find Joy in Hard Things?

Editor’s Note:For the next several Mondays, we’ll be posting content from our brand new 31-day challenge, Grounded in Wisdom: Sage Advice from Older Women. If you enjoy it, why not sign up for the challenge yourself or share it with a friend. Let’s get grounded in wisdom together! —Laura Elliott 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
—1 Thess. 5:16–18

The circumstances I’m facing today aren’t the first hard things I’ve ever faced—nor will they be the last. But no matter the struggle, I can have joy in the Lord. Here is a list of practices that have helped me respond to hard things joyfully. 

Go to the Psalms

Spending time in God’s Word is a great way to navigate difficult circumstances, but when sadness has me paralyzed, I go to the book of Psalms. 

What strikes me the most is the switch in David’s thinking that often happens in the middle of a Psalm. David’s words often start off afraid, angry, depressed. But over and over, his perspective changes. He goes “into the sanctuary of God” (73:17); he “call[s] to God” (55:16); he recognizes that God is his “fortress” and will “let [him] look in triumph” on his enemies (59:9–10).

When I take my mind off my troubles and focus on the Lord, I’m able to get unstuck from my emotions.

Pray

It’s incredibly freeing when I pour out my heart to God. I tell Him about the things that hurt, and share what’s making it hard for me to keep going. By releasing all that pent-up emotion and casting all my anxieties on Him (1 Pet. 5:7), I rediscover my joy in Christ. 

Give Thanks

As Christ’s followers, we are to be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father” (Eph. 5:20). 

I’m not necessarily thankful for my hard things, but I am thankful God is walking beside me and using my circumstances to change me into the person He wants me to be. And, I’m thankful my experiences give me words to encourage others who are going through the same things (2 Cor. 1:3–4).

Sing

As I focus on the words of my favorite worship songs that describe who God is, I find myself singing along and even belting out the truths found in the lyrics. This simple act shifts my mood, lifts my spirit, and gives me hope when I am feeling hopeless.

Do Something for Someone Else

It’s not easy to step away from what I’m feeling and serve someone else, but it’s worth it. When I stop thinking only about my struggle and help my child with homework, listen to a friend share about her own struggle, or make my family’s favorite meal, it’s a lot easier to have a joyful attitude. 

Exercise

When I take a walk or sweat to my favorite workout, it makes an amazing difference in my mood and my spirit. My circumstances haven’t changed, but moving gives me a readiness to face them and a lightness in my spirit.

Laugh

Whether it’s a funny story, a clever meme, a gut-busting YouTube video, or a joke from one of my kids, laughing helps me put down the heaviness of my situation for a moment and helps me feel revived. God, too, prescribes a good dose of laughter (Prov. 17:22). 

Think about Home

As long as I’m here on earth, there will be suffering. But because I’m a follower of Jesus, it’s temporary—my true home is in heaven (Heb. 13:14). One day my burdens will be gone and I will be in my forever home with Jesus.

Note: if you’re struggling with deep depression, please know that while these things can be beneficial in helping you choose joy, you might need help from a trusted Christian counselor or your doctor.

Reflect and Respond:

  • When do you find it hardest to choose joy? Ask God to meet you in those difficult places and help you see His goodness.
  • Which of these practices stands out to you the most? Choose at least one to intentionally implement this week.

Digging Deeper

Choosing gratitude goes hand-in-hand with choosing joy. For more on this, check out Nancy’s book Choosing Gratitude or the 30 Days of Choosing Gratitude booklet

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Mindy Kroesche

Mindy Kroesche

Mindy and her husband, Jon make their home in the heartland of Lincoln, Nebraska. They’ve been blessed with a son and daughter who remind them daily of God’s goodness and grace. Mindy is a stay-at-home mom who has the privilege of working part-time for Revive Our Hearts from home. She has degrees in journalism and French and has worked in ministry for over twenty years.

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