Devotional by Mary Garner
As I started writing this devotion, I took a few minutes and just stared at the blank page. There were many emotions and thoughts running through my mind, but I wasn’t sure how to get them from my head to the page.
Life flies by without us even realizing it. One moment we’re spending all of our time wishing, hoping, and praying for one specific thing and then once we get it we move on to the next thing we would like to have in our life. The cycle goes on and on- you want something, you spend all of your time thinking about it, and then you get it and again and again that goes on. Imagine this: being able to be happy. Happiness seems to be a thing of the past most days. You may wake up in a fantastic mood, but then life happens, stress happens, chaos happens, wrecked plans happen, relationship problems happen, discontent happens. We all know how it seems to go. I want you to look at some “What Ifs” with me:
What if we lived the way we were supposed to? What if we lived in the moment instead of in the future? What if we enjoyed our time with our family instead of always on the phone? What if we hugged more, loved more, prayed more, forgave more, and thanked more? What if? It can be overwhelming to think of adding more to our already hectic and overwhelming schedule, but think about how much more enjoyable your day (and even your life) would be if you had happiness and made the necessary changes to have it. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. When you find true joy in the Lord, He will give you the strength to live the life He has given you. True joy and happiness may seem impossible to you. After all, have you seen how busy and hectic this thing we call life is? But believe it or not friend, it’s possible. I know what you’re thinking: my life is so hectic, there’s relationship problems, family drama, financial stress, etc. How can I be happy when all of this is being thrown at me? I’m not saying that it’s easy to do. I’m not even saying that it comes easily. But what I am saying is this: the closer you get to the feet of Jesus, the closer you get to having the type of joy that far surpasses your situations, whatever they may be. Look at this verse in Habakkuk that will give you a visual of what I’m talking about. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17,18. Look at this! This is an incredible amount of faith that this writer displayed in God. Though everything around him was going wrong, yet he praised God! Did you see why he was able to praise the Lord? Because although everything else failed, he still had his salvation and relationship with God, and that alone is worth being joyful in all the time. For a while I thought happiness was based on having a good life, hardly any hardships, all needs and wants met, and days that were for the most part drama free, but that wasn’t the case. Sitting here in my new pajamas with my coffee and Bible has me seeing things differently. I personally have much to be thankful for and I could never write out all of my blessings on a piece of paper. There wouldn’t be enough room. All the things in this world cannot amount to happiness. It’s not a formula that you have to try and figure out with this much money, mixed with this much family, with a dash of stress-free days. You can try it any way you want, but all the perfect days in the world would not make you happy. Happiness is found in Jesus and it’s found inside of you, not on external things. You can look and look and look (like I did for years) but you won’t find it. My eyes were opened this morning and as I sat back and thought and prayed, I realized something. I have every reason to be happy and content- how could I not be?
- I may run into hard times, but I have a God who will never leave me to walk through it alone.
- I may be stressed to the max, but that means I have things in my life that I care enough about to make sure everything turns out.
- I may have family issues, but at least I have an amazing family that loves me more than I can imagine.
As I look at it deeper and deeper, I realize that I don’t really have anything to complain about, yet I complain often. I have a roof over my head, abundant food and clothes, an amazing church, people who love me and care about me, my best friend, a vehicle, a bed, a job, schooling, etc. The list could go on and on and I’d run out of room to write it all. So if that’s the case, why do we complain and feel ungrateful? It is because we have set expectations in our minds of how we want things to be and when those expectations aren’t met, we get mad, sad, frustrated, ungrateful, etc. We have certain dreams for our life and goals that we want to meet, but there always comes a point when we realize that our dreams and goals don’t always line up with God’s plans for us. Paul learned in whatever state he was in, whether he had abundance or whether he was lacking, he was content. I want to reach that point in my life and I’m sure you do too as a child of God, but it’s a never ending process to get there. You’ll be working towards that mindset until the day you die, but it’s worth it. Look at what Paul says:
- “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 “I know both how to be abased, and I
know how to abound: every where
and in all things I am instructed both
to be full and to be hungry, both to
abound and to suffer need.
13 “I can do all things through Christ
which strengtheneth me.
14 “Notwithstanding ye have well done,
that ye did communicate with my
- “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
These verses say so much, especially when you break them down and read them slowly. Paul knew what it meant to have plenty- but that wasn’t where his happiness lay. He knew what it meant to need much- but that didn’t determine his happiness. His mind was completely fixed on Christ so that whatever came his way, he was steadfast in his faith. I know what you’re thinking.
“That sounds wonderful, but not really doable or even heard of in this day and age that we live in.”
I get it. You look around and everywhere you look you see hurt, frustration, and stress. Contentment, joy, and stress free aren’t popular, but neither is it extinct. You see, we see things from an earthly perspective that I’m sure looks good and right from where everyone else is standing…but God has a perfect view and a heavenly view. He sees the consequence and outcome of every move, choice, thought, word, or action we make. He knows and He tries to help us by preventing certain things, saying no on other things, and ultimately protecting us from disastrous things. Unfortunately, we don’t thank Him for that. Instead we start to show that we’re lacking a little thing called faith that would help us trust Him in those times. We whine, complain, cry, pout, and get angry at Him for keeping something or someone so “good” from us. But stop and think about it from this perspective- why would God love us enough to suffer and die for us yet do something as petty and menial as keeping something good or even His best from us? It doesn’t make sense and it shouldn’t because He wouldn’t do that. He has only your best interest in mind and when something isn’t His best for you, He blocks it most of the time out of love for you. Yet He gets our attitudes and doubt as a “Thank You”. May we try to remember that God only has our best interests in mind and is constantly working behind the scenes in our favor. He works for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
I pray this devotion helped you as it helped me when God was teaching me them. I hope that as you go through this new year of 2022 that you grow closer to God and learn the many lessons that He has planned for you.
ღ ღ About Mary Garner ღ ღ¸
Hi!! My name is Mary Garner, and I’m from Arcade, Georgia. I would say something that people first notice about me are the ways my eyes sparkle with laughter and joy! I’m a new writer. I’ve been writing a little for the past 3 years but now I’m getting serious about writing books and devotionals. Something that I’m very passionate about is using God’s Word to help and encourage those who are feeling broken or hopeless. God has taught me so much in my 21 years and I pray that what I go through can be a blessing and encouragement to others as they go through the same situations in life.
Grace and Blessings (30 Day Devotional) Do the trials, heartaches, and hard times of this life get you down? Do they drag you down and wear you out? Do they make you weary? If your answer is yes, then I want to invite you to read these devotions that I wrote when I was going through the deepest valleys of my life and the darkest nights. When I couldn’t seem to find the light or reach the top of the mountain, that’s when I got the closest to God and when He met me with arms wide open. He picked me up and carried me and He gave me strength when I was too weak to even crawl. He opened my eyes and revealed so much to me in those moments, and I hope you will be encouraged through what He showed me.
Her new book will is come in May.