Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters student Lori Behrens
I strained to see as the doctor pointed out the offending white dot on the x-ray image. All those tiny spots looked the same to me. But evidently one was different enough for concern.
My heart raced as he continued to explain it could go either way … a benign calcification—or something more.
After scheduling the biopsy appointment, I called my husband and heard my shaking voice inform him of the 50 percent chance I had cancer.
“Well, let’s just pray it into the good side of that 50 percent,” he replied in his usual glass-half-full positivity.
And so, the journey began.
Worst-case scenarios flashed through my mind after that first doctor’s visit. But as my sweet hubby latched onto hope and the steadfast power of prayer, I, too, began to pray for God to be glorified throughout this unexpected journey.
Now before you roll your eyes and stop reading, I am not superhuman. I was afraid. I desperately wanted it all to go away. I needed God’s peace.
But deep in my core I also knew my good, trustworthy God sees a bigger picture. He was giving me an opportunity to show others His goodness.
Completely trusting Him, I prayed for the peace to see His hand at work no matter the outcome.
As I prayed to find peace, God added an unexpected blessing. He not only provided peace, but in seeking Him, I also discovered a surprising joy, an unexplained excitement at the anticipation of watching my mighty God work in this situation. Certainly, I was not excited about the diagnosis, but I sensed my God was up to something.
So what about you? How do you experience God’s peace and joy during life’s trials?
For that matter, what are true peace and joy? Dictionary definitions of peace (tranquility, security, freedom from oppression) and joy (emotional well-being, success, happiness) imply dependence upon external circumstances.
After all, happiness happens to us, right? Not necessarily.
God’s Word gives us deeper insight. Check out these three passages in which peace and joy are mentioned in the same context.
- But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)
- For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17 NLT)
- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)
As I explored these passages, I uncovered three steps to experiencing God’s true peace and joy.
First, CHOOSE salvation through Jesus Christ.
Consider the original language. The Greek word translated as peace in each verse above, Eirene, includes in its definition “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is” (The New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon).
In other words, true peace is tied to our salvation and can be experienced independently of earthly circumstances.
Without the foundation of surrendering your life to Jesus Christ, you do not have the tools necessary to experience true peace and joy. Without the Holy Spirit living within you, peace and joy are fleeting, completely dependent upon earthly circumstances.
Observe the wording. Do you notice another commonality within these verses? Both peace and joy are products of God’s Holy Spirit.
What does that mean for us? God is One God, with three distinct parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Upon trusting Jesus Christ (the Son) for salvation, God (the Father) immediately gives us an internal helper, the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). It is the Holy Spirit who leads us, strengthens us, teaches us, empowers us to fight temptation, gives us spiritual gifts, and grows us spiritually.
He also provides a peace and joy the world cannot offer, nor does it understand (Philippians 4:7) Only through God’s Holy Spirit, received upon salvation, can we access the peace to experience joy despite our circumstances. Only when we choose God’s Son, can we then choose true peace and joy.
Second, FOCUS on the things of God.
Choosing true peace and joy requires a true focus. Think of it this way. When a camera is out of focus, the resulting image is not a true representation of the subject. To get an accurate image, you must make an internal change in the camera before the image is captured.
Similarly, trying to change outward results in your life without changing the inward focus of your heart is impossible. Capturing true peace and joy must come from a life focused on the things of God (Philippians 4:8-9).
Third, PRACTICE discovering joy.
After six years cancer free, I still face a possibility my cancer could return. But I refuse to let it muddy my focus.
I have found finding joy is a daily choice. Yes, many days I fail, overwhelmed by daily burdens, or complacent through the mundaneness. But my God never fails. Each morning He brings a new day, with new opportunities for finding joy.
Determine to honor God through your journey, no matter how it looks. Our world desperately needs to see Christ’s followers living out our faith—with joy.
When you face trials, use those opportunities to show the world God’s power. Seek God’s peace through seeking the God of Peace. Stay in His Word daily. Invite Him into every moment of your life. And continue to watch the horizon for the joys He brings every day.
Practice discovering joy today. Start by praying for God to give you His peace to focus on finding His joy. Record your discoveries in a journal. Share them with a friend or on social media.
True joy is waiting to be discovered when you simply adjust your focus and choose to find it.
Have you ever pushed through reading your Bible, feeling it was a necessary duty, but with little passion? I’ve been there. I’ve felt that secret shame of knowing I should, but not wanting to read my Bible. I’m Lori Behrens: Christ follower, adoptive mom, Texas Aggie (Whoop!), pastor’s wife, and active student of God’s Word. You can find me leading Women’s Bible studies, discussing Bibley things on my blog at loribehrens.com, or on Facebook as Lori Behrens Writes. It is my passion to help others fall in love with Jesus through falling in love with His Word.