How to Find Peace and Joy When You’ve Fallen and Failed

It’s easy to be consumed by our failures isn’t it?

We rehearse continually in our minds the “if-onlys.”

If you’ve lived long enough to be able to read and understand this then you’ve lived long enough to fail.

Regret takes over and your mind fixates on how you missed rather than what you gained.  A sure recipe for feeling miserable and wasting time.

Because in case you hadn’t noticed you can’t fix yesterday.  Trust me I’ve tried.  Doesn’t work.

But you can do something about today and tomorrow.

Paul writes, “I forget what is behind and look forward to what is ahead.”

Paul had plenty of “if-onlys” he could have fixated on.  Yet he chose instead to look forward to what God promises.

Think about what you really need right now and a promise of God that fulfills it.

Ask him for it.  Then picture that he’s giving it to you right now.  Anticipate his promise.

Then start living in that expectation.

Feel the joy as the regret sloughs off and your mind sees your dream.

Move forward in renewed strength to see those promises become reality.

And forget the “if-onlys”.  Not a fun way to live.

I’m not wasting any more time on them.

Got a lot more fun things to do.

 

*Philippians 3:13

How Do You Find Hope and Peace When You Feel Overwhelmed with Problems?

I know so many people struggling with overwhelming issues.  Health setbacks, family chaos, financial stresses, job challenges.  Maybe you are too.

In the midst, even as a believer, it’s easy to give up hope isn’t it?  To think, “It’s always going to be like this.”

Or to feel, as a friend once said, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Yet, when that becomes your focus where does it leave you?  Feeling hopeless doesn’t it?

That’s what I love about this promise from God through the prophet Jeremiah.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When that promise was given the Jews were exiled.  They had lost everything.  Life seemed hopeless.

Yet into the midst of their darkness God shines a ray of light.  He says, “Take heart.  Stop looking around you.  Instead look beyond you.  I have a plan for you, to prosper you and give you a bright future.”

He says the same to you today no matter what you face.

Just ask and trust him for that promise.  He will deliver it.

Then you’ll say, unlike my friend, “I don’t need any luck because I’m blessed.”

 

*Jeremiah 29:11

Enjoy Success and Prosperity When You’re Overwhelmed with Problems

We live in a confusing and challenging world don’t we?  Seems like every day something new pops up.

And when it doesn’t you worry it will.

You go to the doctor for a minor ache and he gives you that concerned look.

The business where you work gets bought out and needs to downsize.

The transmission in your 8 year old Honda starts making a funny noise that you pretend you can’t hear.

You look forward to a great retirement and find out you saved too little and invested poorly.

Yet, in the midst, God gives a promise that at first seems too simplistic.  Yet, I’ve found those are the best kind.  Even I can understand them.

“Meditate on my word continually then you’ll prosper and succeed.”

See sometimes, I think, we make things way more complicated than needed.

God simply says, “Take my word and infuse it into your mind.”

Then you gain confidence.  You look at life through the lens of his promises rather than your challenges.

You gain insight.  You see answers rather than only questions.

And God guides your mind along the path he wants you to take.

Then he promises you will prosper and succeed.

And why not?  God your father delights in blessing you his child.

Sure beats worrying doesn’t it?

 

*Joshua 1:8

How Do You Put on Strength When You Feel So Weak?

It doesn’t take long to find out your weaknesses does it?

As kids we figure it out pretty quick.  Parents and teachers give out participation trophies yet we all know don’t we?

Maybe, like me, you were the last picked for baseball games.  And the team captains kept looking around hoping someone was hiding.

Maybe, like me, you struggled with a learning disability.

Maybe you were always the last one asked to the dance.

And that’s just childhood.  Yikes!   Adulthood brings a whole new train load doesn’t it?

Yet, the good news is that’s not the end of the story.  It’s only the first chapter.

See Paul promised something amazing.

He said, “When I accept I am weak then I become truly strong.”

When you realize and accept you have built in weaknesses.  Then you can start down the road to real power.

Because you come to God and say, “God accept me as I am, change me and fill me with your power.”

And the amazing thing?  He does.

Some of the most successful people I know are ones who are deeply flawed yet took on God’s power.  And in that power they did amazing things.

I’m living proof this works.

I’m even pretty good now at baseball.  Ok, well not so much.

*2 Corinthians 12:10

How to See God’s Miracle When You Need it Most

I’ve prayed and seen full up miracles.

But before you call, I’ve also prayed and watched things grow worse.

Why sometimes, when you need it most, does a miracle not show up?

Yet, other times it does?

Paul writes, “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles because you follow his law or because you believe in his promises?”

See, I think sometimes, people don’t really expect God to work a miracle.  They pray but don’t actually expect to see God work miraculously.

Instead, Paul says, trust in what God promised.  Expect to see God fulfill it.  He promised, why would he not honor it?

On the other side, I think sometimes people expect too much.  They pray for and try to trust God to give them things he didn’t promise.

So instead read God’s word and see what he really did promise.  Then ask for that, but only that.  All your needs are covered but in God’s way.

Then look for God’s miracle.  It may be different than what you envisioned yet fulfills God’s promise.  And it can be just as miraculous in its own way.

Then you really will see God’s power and miracles.

Oh, and still don’t get your hopes up about me.  My track record at times has been spotty.

 

*Galatians 3:5

How Do You Find Peace and Joy in the Midst of This Discontented World?

Anti-depressant drugs bring billions of dollars annually to drug companies.  Drug addictions to prescription and illegal drugs run rampant.

How can we live in the most affluent society in history yet so many are depressed and need to escape?

How can people become so despondent because they’re the only one of their friends who doesn’t have the latest smart phone with faster texting?  I guess because they can’t get as much texting done while driving.

I don’t fully know the reason but I do know the cure.

Paul writes, “Don’t be conformed any longer to the ways of this world but be transformed by renewing your mind.”

See it all starts in your mind.  So how do you transform it?

First, as you trust your life to God and ask him to change you.

He transforms your mind.  Oh, not all at once, actually that might scare your friends.  But he does it over time.  Your hopes rearrange, your values shift and your contentment expands.

Then as you continue to focus on God’s promises, that he will provide for and walk with you, your mind changes.

You discover peace and joy in the midst of this discontented world.

Then you’ll know you’ve been transformed, from the inside out.

I have and you will too.

Personally I’m all in for denting the drug companies’ profits.

 

*Romans 12:2

How to Live with Boldness and Confidence in This Scary World

Our world is a scary place isn’t it?  Just turn on CNN as they breathlessly chatter 24 hours a day about the latest threat that may end planet earth as we know it.

Yet, frankly you don’t need to look around the world.  Just look around your city.  There are some areas you wouldn’t wander after dark.  Heck, I’m not sure I’d wander too many places after dark.

So, in a way, we have a choice.

Do we let fear overtake and squelch our lives?  Or do we live life in confidence and boldness the way it was meant?

David wrote, “I will fear no evil, because your rod and your staff comfort me.”

This from a man who spent years trying to keep from living a very short life due to his enemies.

See he didn’t fixate on the threat around him.  Instead he focused on God with him.

As a shepherd he’d carried a rod as a weapon for protection.  And he used his staff to guide and rescue his sheep.

He gives us a picture of how God does the same for us.

When you grasp that promise instead of fear you’re filled with comfort and confidence.

Then you can boldly live your life to the fullest.

Oh, and it helps to turn off CNN.

 

*Psalm 23:4

How to Find Happiness When You’ve Been Hurt by Someone You Trust

We don’t live very long before someone hurts us do we?  From the school yard bully to our first girlfriend or boyfriend we wise up pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, that’s mild compared to the hurts inflicted by those we trust.

An abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, an unethical business partner, an undermining friend all have the power to inflict real damage.

It can leave us seething with anger and wanting revenge.  Yet, that continues to inflict even more damage.

We’ve been told to forgive and forget, but how?

I love the words of Joseph when he meets years later his brothers who sold him into slavery.

He said, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”

Wow!   What a perspective.

See Joseph didn’t excuse his brothers’ evil and hurtful behavior.

Instead he looked through the cloud of hurt at the good God intended.

Remember, the evil someone works against you isn’t the last word.  God has the last word.

So when you’ve been hurt instead of focusing on the evil look through eyes of faith to the good God intends.

Then you’ll see clearly the blessing as the memory of the hurt grows dim.  And you’ll be able to forgive and forget because God has turned your hurt into healing.

 

*Genesis 50:20

Finding Joy When You’re Overwhelmed with Grief

I’ve stood by too many grave sides talking about the one who left too soon.  Memories flood my mind.  Tears well up in my eyes and spill down my cheeks.

Sometimes I’ve thought, “If I could just have one more hour.”

But of course I can’t.  And it wouldn’t be enough.

You’ve felt the same I know.

As has been said, “None of us get out of this alive.”

That’s why I love this promise of Jesus about Heaven.

“God will wipe away every tear.  There will be no more death, grief, crying or pain.  The old way has ended.”

This life is not the end of your story.  The dawn is just breaking.

As we simply accept God’s gift he gives it.  He says, “Join me my child.  Live with me and those you love forever.”

Then you rest in the comfort that you’ll get to spend that extra hour with that one you love.  Heck, you’ll get to spend a gazillion hours.

Actually, with a few loved ones, that might be just a smidge too much.

No loved one will ever leave again.  No more tears or grief or pain.

Hey, and you get to live there also.

Oh, and me too.  Not sure how I got so lucky but I’m not asking.

 

*Revelation 21:4

How to In the Midst of Grief Be Surprised by Joy

We all get blindsided by loss and grief don’t we?  A marriage fails, we lose a loved one, we’re downsized out of a job.

Suddenly we plunge into the night of grief.  We think, “How can I possibly go on?”

After days and months we wonder, “Will life ever be normal again?”

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is, unfortunately, this is life.  The good news is that joy will return.

You’ll find healing in the midst of the hurt.

You’ll find laughter in the midst of the tears.

Dawn will break into the midst of your darkness.

The Psalmist promises, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I love that and have seen it so many times.  In the midst of the pain unexpectedly a laugh sneaks in.  A smile creases your face.  Lightness lingers in your heart.

No matter your loss God sees and knows.  He’s with you in the darkness and will lead you into the light again.

When you just draw close to him he fills you with his unexplainable joy.

So whatever you face today in your night.  God meets you there and will lead you into the dawn again.

Then you will truly be surprised by joy.

 

*Psalm 30:5