The other day, I shared some Scripture the Lord led me to during Mom’s journey with cancer that can help answer the question of why life doesn’t turn out as we envisioned. You can check that out here- When Life Doesn’t Go Your Way (Part 1). Like I said, there will come a point (or points) in our lives where we will realize that life is not going to turn out the way that you envisioned it. James 1:2 (and other verses) tells us that we will experience trials and struggles in this life. We cannot always control these situations, but what we can do is choose how we respond to these situations. Ultimately, I believe that we have 2 choices.
Choice #1- Choose bitterness. When things don’t go our way, whether it be because someone hurt us (emotionally or physically), financial issues, career issues, sickness, etc., we can choose to be bitter. We can choose to throw a pity-party. We can find the negative in everything. We can choose to not forgive. Depending on the situation, we can choose revenge, or to lash back with our words (this could be online or verbally). We can choose to call the attention to us and our lives and how hard we have it. These are all things that our flesh will want to do. Honestly, this is sometimes the easiest response in the moment. However, God commands us against this type of response. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Friends, bitterness and self-pity is an easy place to go, and in the moment, it feels “right;” however, it is not a fun place to stay. Keep reading for a better way to respond.
Choice #2- Choose joy. James 1:2 commands us to consider it JOY when we face trials. We are actually commanded by Christ to make this choice. We cannot make this choice on our own, because it completely goes against what our flesh would naturally do. We must remain in Christ so that He may make our joy complete (John 5:1-17). Remain in Christ by spending daily time with Him and surrounding yourself with a strong body of other followers of Christ. Seek Christ wholeheartedly during your trial. Find out what He is trying to teach you in the midst of it. Look for who He is trying to get you to minister to in the midst of it. Laugh and grow closer with your family and friends in the midst of it. Allow Him to prove Himself faithful and teach you so many other things about Himself. Allow His power to be made perfect in your weakness, and allow His grace to be enough for you. Forgive others if that is what is needed, even if they haven’t asked for it or forgiven you. When choosing joy gets tough, remember the cross. Jesus faced a trial worse than anything that we will ever face, and He did it for you and for me. Even through the trails, the beatings, the mocking, and death on the cross, Jesus continued to do the Father’s will, showed love, and forgave. Let’s look to the cross and follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One of my most vivid memories of Mom’s journey with cancer comes not long after she was diagnosed. We were all sitting in the living room, talking about the situation. I very clearly remember my parents telling us that we had talked our whole lives about living out our faith, and that now was the time we were going to put our words into action. We were not perfect in choosing joy, and still aren’t, but I can tell you that the desire of our hearts was to glorify Christ in the midst of our trial. I believe that if we would have chosen to be bitter, that we would have missed out on so much that the Lord had in store for us. Please, friends, don’t miss out on what Jesus has for you because bitterness feels “right” in the moment. Choosing joy does not mean that you will not have moments of sadness or tears. Trust me, we had (and still have) plenty of those; choosing joy just means that you are making the choice to glorify Jesus and allowing Him to work in you and through you in whatever situation you may be in. If you don’t believe that joy can be found in suffering, please check out this post. Lean on Jesus for your joy, friends! What moments have you had to choose joy in? How did Jesus prove Himself faithful in your choice to be joyful and glorify Him? I would love to hear how Jesus has worked/is working in your life!
Here is a picture of a day that was tough for us, but also a day that actually brought us some laughs. Some days, I look at these pictures and tear up a little bit thinking of all Mom went through. Other days, these pictures make me laugh because of the other side of Mom’s personality that we got to see while she battled cancer (see below). The picture below is proof that Mom chose joy. I am so thankful for the example she set in this all through her journey with cancer. Thank you, Jesus, for these sweet moments with Mom!