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Christian Life

What You Can Do to Help Renew Your Joy During Difficult Life Seasons

Have you ever had one of those seasons in your life when it seems like the bad stuff outweighs the good? It doesn’t necessarily mean that good things aren’t happening; it just means that the bad stuff seems bigger in comparison.

For me, those are the times when the joy of the Lord seems like an unattainable dream rather than reality. Do these times mean that we’ve lost our joy? What are we supposed to do?

It feels like I’m in a season like this right now. This year, we’ve experienced deaths of family members – human and animal. I lost one friendship, and one of my best friends just moved to England with very little notice. It’s been a super busy summer, and though some really awesome good things have happened, like starting Faith Chats with Project Inspired, sometimes it still feels like the bad things this year are overshadowing the good. It’s hard to remember joy.

The first thing we need to know about the joy of the Lord is that it doesn’t mean we’ll always be happy. The joy of the Lord is about where our focus is. It’s not about always having a smile on our faces. To experience the joy of the Lord (a.k.a. the joy of our salvation), our focus needs to be on the Lord and the sacrifice He made to renew our relationship with Him.

It’s impossible to maintain this kind of joy when our focus is on earthly things or our own circumstances. The trouble is that we’re human, and sometimes our focus gets divided, right? School can keep us focused on the stress of homework and grades, the death of loved ones can keep us focused on grief, and falling into temptation can keep us focused on guilt and failure.

When we find this happening, girls, we need to reorient our focus. The natural reaction of the body when we feel sad, defeated or depressed is to hang our heads, looking down. When you notice yourself doing that, make a point to look up instead. I know it sounds simple, but it refocuses our attention and reminds us to look to God.

During the times when we feel least like praying, reading the Bible or going to church, we need to give ourselves the extra push and make those things happen. To keep the joy that God has for us, we need to keep Him in our sight as much as possible.

Girls, do you have any tips for renewing joy?

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:10-11).

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Image: iStockPhoto | Thinkstock

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15 Comments

  1. Nekocandy4life

    Posted by Nekocandy4life on April 6, 2016 at 14:07

    I noticed that I look down a lot. Whether I talk to God in my mind, or just try thinking of something else or having a mental battle, I look down and lately it’s been creeping me out. This is an interesting tip to look up to God.

  2. Paris

    Posted by Paris on July 26, 2013 at 00:29

    One thing that I always remember when I’m going through trials is that someone else is doing EVEN WORSE than I am, and all that makes me think is THANK YOU JESUS. Every time I see the news, I thank God for keeping me through my trials, because lots of people just kill themselves because they can’t handle it. I thank him so much not just for keeping me physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Going through so much heartache can shatter your mental state and make you give up on God. BUT,NEVER give up because God says this: (1 Peter 5:7) “Cast ALL your anxiety on him because HE CARES FOR YOU.”

  3. Gymnastgirl17

    Posted by Gymnastgirl17 on July 23, 2013 at 20:07

    Yes. When my parents got divorced in 2008, I was very upset. I went to a local Christian school. I was so upset that I couldn’t really concentrate(I think, I would imagine, I also could imagine I couldn’t eat lunch the day after my parents’ divorce) or play with my friends during break. I remember sitting near where the teachers sat, but on a grassy area. I was still crying. Some of my friends came over to me and I told them, “My parents are di- divorced.”. They understood and they comforted me and prayed with me. Now in 2013, God is still with me. 🙂

  4. Olivia_Logan

    Posted by Olivia_Logan on July 23, 2013 at 07:44

    Thank you for this encouraging message 🙂
    I try to always remember that God uses trials in my life to make me more relatable to others who are struggling. If I had not experienced the struggles that I had with accepting myself through the difficult, awkward stage of my life, I would not have the story that has helped me become close and trusted with other young girls going through the same issues. I still deal some of these things but I can trust that God will use me with my flaws to reach others with His truth. <3

  5. Made_for_more

    Posted by Made_for_more on July 22, 2013 at 19:53

    Jenn, this is a great article! Speaks to me exactly where I am right now. Just working my way through the season. I was getting discouraged, but after reading this article I feel like my strength is renewed to keep on moving!

  6. Mandi_lee2014

    Posted by Mandi_lee2014 on July 22, 2013 at 13:38

    Praying is great, but through the tough period in my life (and my close friends) we focus on serving others instead of ourselves. We actually just had a sermon on this last night as my friend and I were supporting each other through are broken, lost state.
    It isn’t easy for me to do, and it takes constant prayer to do, but sometimes God calls us to help others while he works on us. The biggest thing, that my pastor brought up a few weeks ago is “You have to put your oxygen mask on before you put on anyone else’s.” Meaning, make sure you take the time to pray and release your problems to God while taking in his promises before you go and help someone else.

  7. MonkeyButt

    Posted by MonkeyButt on July 22, 2013 at 13:22

    My number one tip for being joyful in the hard times, is to find the good in people instead of the bad. If a person is really mean and hateful, just think of the good things in them instead of the bad. Do what God does. It always makes me happy.

  8. hereigns56

    Posted by hereigns56 on July 22, 2013 at 13:14

    Thanks Jenn! I love how honest this was. This summer hasn’t been easy–it’s been full of change for my family and also pretty lonely.This totally looks like what God is trying to show me right now–that He is stronger than any situation, and I just have to stay open to letting Him work in me, even though at times it may feel completely impossible. Praying has especially been hard lately, even though I’m being repeatedly told it’s something I need to be doing!

    My tips for renewing joy (still working on these myself!):
    -To keep looking to God: remember to thank Him! Even though it may seem hard, when you acknowledge what God has given, starting with His son, Jesus, you are more able to see Him.
    -It’s sort of like abiding, but focus on trusting God. Try to remember that He is in control and that “he is working all things for the good of those who love Him.” Listen to His promises, and let Him guide you.
    – Don’t put on a face. An honest conversation with a friend is sometimes something we need more than we realize–when we hide everything, it’s so easy to let our emotions build up inside of us, which so easily can become sin. And if we don’t let our sadness show, how can we let our joy show? The Bible is full of a ton of psalms that speak of much sadness… Let yourself cry. Take opportunities to talk to people you know you can be real with, and who will listen to what you have to say. Who knows, they may need someone they can be real with too, and the more you open up, the more they might feel comfortable too… Most importantly, though, be real with yourself.
    -To help with prayer: If you have an accountability partner (I hope you do!) try to be REALLY honest and accountable with them about your prayer life and growth. I’ve had an accountability partner for a while, but I’m just beginning to be real with her about my faith. Anyone can be an accountability partner–your best friend, your sibling, your Mom–they should be someone who’s at least praying for you, and someone you see regularly…My accountability partner and I read the Bible together. It’s especially good if it’s someone older who you trust and that you can go to with questions about God and the Bible. Hopefully, if they’re not the same person, you do have both in your life!

    • Deeblves3

      Posted by Deeblves3 on July 22, 2013 at 17:43

      @Hereigns56, I love the step of faith your taking! My summer hasn’t been the best yet either, but Im grateful that God is always faithful and constant. I pray that God will help you see how He sees the season you are in right now (: where you are right now, God knows it will produce character, and hope for you (Rom 5:4) and it will all work together for the good of those who love Him!

  9. AllisonGrace

    Posted by AllisonGrace on July 22, 2013 at 06:26

    Needed to hear this! I’ve been going through a tough season of life as well. Thank you for the reminder, Jenn! I tend to wallow in self pity, which is what I’ve been doing durin this time. prayer is SO important to me, but sometimes I forget to ask God for things for myself when I pray. Awesome article

    • Posted by JennArman on July 28, 2013 at 23:33

      I forget to ask God for things for myself when I pray too! Of course sometimes I’m just stubborn and I don’t want to ask Him for the things I know I need, like patience… 😉

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by allietrieshard52891 on July 21, 2013 at 16:55

    good advice for anything: pray

  11. Kyla

    Posted by Kyla on July 21, 2013 at 16:02

    Thank you Jenn! This is a great article and is so helpful. I’m getting out of one of those seasons at the moment and I really appreciate this tip!

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through such a rough time lately!! Just remember that it’s God’s will and he is working for your good! I’ll keep you in my prayers! I hope you heal from any pain you’ve recently been feeling! We love you Jenn! <3

  12. Deeblves3

    Posted by Deeblves3 on July 21, 2013 at 14:33

    I know I’m at a season in my life right now, and it’s been a struggle yet a blessing to be able to see that God is working in your life and He is shaping you to who He dreamt of you to be. One of the things I’ve been doing in this season is worship. I sit down and just have alone time with the Father. Even when it feels you can’t, because so much feels like it’s out of control..Just sit in your heart before the Creator. His word says “Come to me, all you who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest..” You begin to see that you aren’t alone, and Jesus has been carrying you all along. 🙂 ♥

  13. LoVeYoUrSeLf98

    Posted by LoVeYoUrSeLf98 on July 21, 2013 at 13:32

    This is just what I needed to read. Thanks Jenn!