MAINTAINING A SPIRIT OF JOY IN A CRISIS
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16
In the movie, The Bucket List, two men, Carter & Edward, both cancer patients, are hospital roommates who form a friendship. They create a Bucket List of things they want to do before they die.
One thing on the list was to go see the Great Pyramids of Egypt. While they are there, Carter, who is walking encyclopedia of knowledge, tells Edward that the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance of heaven, they were asked 2 questions. Their answers determined whether they were admitted or not. Question # 1- Have you found joy in your life? Question # 2- Has your life brought joy to others?
Now we know that what grants our souls admission to heaven is our faith in Jesus Christ. But those 2 questions are important questions in this life. So, let me ask you those questions. Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?
Hopefully you can answer yes to both questions. Both of those questions are answered in our 2-part mini-series that we will conclude today- “maintaining a spirit of joy in a crisis”; specifically this Coronavirus crisis
Our verse is 1 Thess. 5:16- “Be joyful always. Last Sunday we looked at the first 4 ways we can maintain joy:
Today, I want to share with you the final 5 ways that you can maintain joy during this or any other crisis that arises in your life. Here is # 5:
5. AVOID COMPLAINING
Right now, during the COVID CRISIS and the ensuing shutdown, there are so many places we can’t go to and so many things we can’t do. There are no church gatherings; no high school/college graduations; no sporting events; we haven’t been able to go out and eat or go get a haircut, although this last one isn’t an issue for me.
We’ve been under a stay at home order and battling boredom. It would be easy for us to start complaining about all the things we can’t do and all the places we can’t go and all the products we can’t get at the store.
So, how much complaining have you been doing? I think we need to avoid complaining just like we are trying to avoid the Coronavirus.
One reason is because complaining is a direct violation of Scripture. Phil. 2:14 says- “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Simply put, complaining is a sin. Those of us who complain need to repent of it.
Another reason to avoid complaining is that complaining steals our joy. Complaining is a joy robber. Complaining won’t make you feel any better. Just the opposite is true. You’ll feel miserable and you’ll make others around you miserable when all you do is to complain about this and gripe about that.
A third reason to repent of our complaining is because it is indicative of an ungrateful spirit. When a family goes on vacation, after a while the children get bored during the long car ride. They start complaining: “I’m bored. I’m tired. Are we there yet? How much longer til we get there?” All the complaining and whining by the children starts to get on their parents’ nerves. And the parents get frustration. Now, I know I’m not talking about your family! But it does happen, or so I’ve been told.
I wonder, if we are constantly complaining, how does that make our Heavenly Father feel? Does he ever tire of our complaining, esp. in light of all the blessings he has given us?
So, if we want to have joy in our lives, we need to cut down on the complaining. Here is the 6th way to maintain a spirit of joy…….
6. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Phil 4:8 says- “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
Often, it is our perspective that determines our attitude. If all we do is focus on where we can’t go and what we can’t do, then we will complain more and we’ll have much less joy in our lives.
But, if we focus on the positive things in life, we’ll develop an attitude of appreciation and we’ll experience more joy. May I suggest a joy-building exercise for you to do?
Every time you are tempted to complain or you catch yourself complaining, stop and list 5 things you are thankful for. Then take a few moments and thank God for them. Could I suggest a few?
If you would just take a few moments to count your blessings, you will find that your glass…..your cup runneth over. And when you do, you will also find that you have more joy spilling over into your life!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says- “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Less complaining and more giving of thanks is a recipe for joy.
Here is the 7th way to maintain joy in a crisis…..
7. DO SOMETHING TO ENCOURAGE SOMEONE ELSE
When we go through a difficult time, the tendency is for us to focus on ourselves and our problems. We need up throwing a pity party for ourselves. The problem with a pity party is that no one else attends. There isn’t any joy that comes from a pity party.
Instead of fixating on your problems, find someone else who needs cheering up and do something to encourage them. Hebrews 3:13 says that we are to….”encourage one another daily.”
Everyday find one other person and do something kind for them. Give them a word of encouragement. When you do, you will find that you will have more joy in your life, for Jesus is quoted in Acts 20:35 as saying- “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
You’ll receive a blessing from God when you are a blessing to someone else. One of those blessings will be to experience a greater amount of joy because the word “blessed” means to experience a heavenly joy.
I have met some people who have the biggest problems in life & yet they are the happiest people in life. Maybe you know some people like that. When you get to know them and you listen to them talk, or you observe them in action, you soon discover why they are so happy. They aren’t wallowing in the mire of self-pity. They are giving of themselves to others all the time.
Someone said that you spell joy this way: J-JESUS FIRST; 0-THERS SECOND;
It really is more blessed to give than to receive. If you will take the time to encourage someone else, you will find that you feel encouraged….that you feel better….that you have more joy and happiness.
The 8th way to maintain joy in a crisis is to…..
8. TAKE A DAILY DOSE OF HUMOR
Readers Digest Magazine has a section in it called, “Laughter the best medicine.” They are just illustrating this principle found in Proverbs 17:22- “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
There is something beneficial about humor and laughter. According to the Help Guide to Mental Health & Wellness, laughter…..
1.relaxes your whole body- relieving physical tension and stress
2. laughter boosts the immune system- laughter actually decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells & infection fighting antibodies
3. laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals
4. laughter protects the heart-laughter improves the function of blood vessels & increases blood flow
5. laughter burns calories- while it is no substitute for exercise; laughing 10-15 mins/day burns approx. 40 calories & you’ll end up losing 3-4 lbs a year……if you give up chocolate!
6.laughter lightens anger’s heavy load
7. laughter may even help you to live longer- a study conducted in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much….this was particularly notable among those who were battling cancer
Just like the Bible says, a cheerful heart is good medicine. Laughter is beneficial to our physical, mental & emotional health and well-being. Is laughter a missing ingredient in your life? Take a few moments to laugh from time to time. Laughter will certainly help us to maintain a sense of joy during a crisis.
Finally, in order to maintain joy……
9. STAY FOCUSED ON HEAVEN
Life is sometimes discouraging and depressing. But we have heaven to look forward to. One wonderful aspect of heaven is that all of the depressing problems in this life will be absent in the next, as Revelation 21:4 promises- “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I think that is one reason why Paul urged us to stay focused on heaven in Colossians 3:1-2-“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
If all we do is focus on the things of this life and hope to find joy and happiness in them, we will be disappointed and disheartened. The joys of this life are fleeting at best and life is depressing at its worse.
But there is every reason for joy when we set our hearts on heaven. Heaven is a perfect place. There will be no problems, pain, disease, heart-break or death. Heaven is a place of joy. Heaven is forever.
The late Don DeWelt, preacher & Bible College professor, had a motto for his life. His motto was, “Happy on my way to heaven.” Mr. DeWelt was known for that. That was the title of his autobiography.
When we focus on the joy of heaven instead of the problems of this life, we too will be happy on our way to heaven.
So, stay focused on the goal of going to heaven. When you do, you’ll experience more joy here on earth.
The way to heaven is by receiving Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior. Jesus said of himself- “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the way to heaven because he died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us victory over death.
This morning you can receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, right in the privacy of your own home. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and if you are willing to turn from your sin, I am going to ask you to confess your faith in Jesus…..
Please repeat this confession out loud, I BELIEVE…….THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST…..THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD….MY LORD AND SAVIOR.
If you made that confession, God bless you! You have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior! I would like to know about your decision and help you to take the next step with Jesus…..the step of baptism.
On our website, you will find a link….CONTACT US…I’VE ACCEPTED JESUS. Click on that link and you will be taken to our contact page where you will find a phone number and an e-mail address you can use to get in touch with me and let me know about your decision and ask me more about being baptized!