by Pam Farrel
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Psalm 19:8 NLT
Lighthouses are special to our family. Our youngest son proposed to his wife at a lighthouse. We have our home on a live-aboard boat so lighthouses are a beacon of hope to us in the fog or squalling sea. God’s word is that same kind of lighthouse, a beacon of hope to guide us into a safe harbor in the storms of life.
During a media tour for my new book, my husband Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the ER where a doctor informed him that he had high blood pressure. Since a history of early strokes ran in his family, this caught Bill’s attention. God soon made it clear that he should resign from his role as lead pastor. This decision was both emotionally and financially difficult. In this same season, our youngest son, Caleb, was hit in a football game and rushed to the hospital where he needed a blood transfusion to save his life. Eight days later, we received calls about my other two sons who had both also experienced serious injuries. Then I got a call that my younger brother was hospitalized after a heart attack and needed me to help with his kids.
My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.
When friends would ask, “How are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. So, I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5 (ESV), “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” JOY! That’s what I needed. But how does one choose joy when it feels like your life is being tossed about in life’s storms?
I discovered four directions in which I needed to set my sights.
Look UP: I read Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV), “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” I decided to keep following the well-lit path to joy with other verses. I printed them, studied them, memorized them, and hung them around my home. Verses like:
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11 NLT
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11 NLT
Look BACK: I retraced God’s faithfulness in my life. I keep a JOY JOURNAL, a scrapbook of sorts that records my praise requests and praises as God answers. During this particularly tough season, I invited the women of our church to a scrapbook party where we each made a photobook with pictures of the people and prayer requests heavy on our heart. Using colorful pens, we wrote verses of peace, hope, love and joy around each photo—leaving space to record the answer when it came. Praying verses of joy can be a life preserver, something to cling to when you feel life is drowning you with sorrow.
Look OUT: We are not meant to go through tough times alone. I found it helpful to prayer walk with friends several times a week. As we walked we PRAYED scripture, PRAISED God for His faithful character, and left with more hope and joy!
Look AHEAD: On her 89th birthday, I asked a cheery mentor who had overcome illness and created a path of hope after the death of her spouse, “How do you hold on to joy?”
She replied, “I always plan something to look forward to.” For me, planning activities to redeem, restore or renew the hope and joy of others brings me joy. Keeping an “other-centered” life lifts my spirits!
Joy became my lighthouse of hope, an anchor in a storm that lasted three years. Since the day I found hope in the Psalms, I answer the “How are you?” with “Choosin’ joy!” That’s the power of the Word. Its joy will not only be your lighthouse, but a lighthouse to all in your world as God shines the light to others through your hope and praise.
About the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 45 books, including her newest, an innovative Bible study co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher: Discovering Hope in the Psalms. Pam and Her husband Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate and encourage people’s most vital relationships. When not traveling for speaking, the Farrells enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, walking the beach and hosting guests on their floating home on the ocean.
Join the conversation: What brings you joy?