Late last week, a friend had quadruple bypass surgery. Last night I learned that an online writer friend died suddenly in her home. My husband and I are aging and facing some health issues. When I turn on the TV evening news, I hear of mass shootings, suicides, crime, and drug overdoses. How does one maintain a cheerful attitude when everything around us seems to be bad news?
The good news is that we worship a God who loves us immensely. He gave His Son Jesus to die for our sin, in order to restore our relationship with God. He has blessed us with His word, the Bible, which lights our way when there’s darkness around us. Psalm 119:105 reminds us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (NIV). Reading the Bible brings encouragement, direction, and strength.
In His word, God commands His children to remember the deeds He has done in the past. Think about what God has done for you before. Has He walked with you through difficult trials? Has He brought healing? Have you experienced His comfort? Reflect on those times and remember that God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He has been with you in the past, He will be with you today and tomorrow.
The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:8, tells us to set our focus on positive things: “…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
When I start to feel depressed about the bad things around me, in addition to the above, I find it helps to take a walk around my yards and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in the flower gardens. In spite of all the crazy weather we’ve experienced this year, God’s hand is so evident in the plants. Every one has bloomed profusely and is working on a second round of blossoms. The colors are vibrant, and the shapes of petals and leaves are amazingly varied.
It also helps me to listen to music. I prefer worship songs and classical music because that is how I was trained. I can focus on God when the melody and the lyrics draw my attention toward Him.
When things get tough, I like to phone a friend or family member and share some love. I’ve learned it’s good to ask for prayer. I’m grateful for the many prayer warriors in my life who will faithfully lift me up to our Heavenly Father. It’s encouraging just to know that caring people are praying.
A few years ago, the mother of two of my students told me she wanted to make something special for me at the end of the school year. She asked God what message would be appropriate. The plaque she painted says, “Choose Joy.” It hangs where I see it each morning, and it’s a great reminder to focus on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things that surround me.
In the presence of things that bring us down, I pray your focus will be on Jesus this week, and on all of the beautiful things He gives. Have a joy-filled week!