Finding Joy in Tough Times

I would imagine there are very few people who would say the last few months have been the best of their lives. If you are ministering to others as a volunteer or in paid ministry, you have probably been challenged as never before. Unfortunately, with everyone needing encouragement, few are willing or able to give it. As a result, many of us are beginning to feel stuck in negative emotional, mental and even spiritual states.

Brain science is so interesting because it frequently backs up what we find in scripture. Did you know, for example, that if you allow your mind to stay in a negative emotional state like anger, fear or sadness, it can become harder and harder to move out of it into a more positive mindset? One only has to glance at Philippians 4:6-8 to realize that God understands He created our minds that way and wants us to spend more of our time in those positive emotional and mental places.

There may not be an exact verse, but reading about the life of Samson illustrates another discovery in brain science. If you stay in a negative, emotional state of mind, it’s almost impossible to make strategic, wise, godly decisions. That’s why we see so many people acting out or quickly changing their minds to an opposite extreme. They are making decisions based on emotions and not using their “higher” brain functions that would help them make wiser and ultimately more helpful choices.

The question most people pose today is, “How can I have joy when there is so much brokenness, pain and evil in the world?” Well let’s take a look at the world surrounding the authors of the New Testament as an example. I would imagine if you compared their world and ours, you wouldn’t find many differences. Ours is somewhat amplified because we instantly hear negative news from all around the world instead of just our area, but the actual amount of evil in the world is probably similar.

Yet, Paul wrote many of his most joy filled, encouraging letters from prison. Often he did not know if he would survive his current imprisonment. The death penalty then made no effort to be humane. If anything, the opposite was true.

So how was Paul able to find joy in all circumstances? How was he able to make wise choices and have a huge impact on the spiritual lives of those around him even while in prison and awaiting his fate? Come back tomorrow for some insights on finding joy in our troubled world today.

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