Journey to Joy

by Melissa Heiland

If I’m honest, I’ll tell you, I still cringe a little bit when I hear the phrase, “joy in suffering.” The words just don’t go together in my mind, but I know they are paired in the Bible. And so, I pursue joy in suffering. I have not reached the mark on this. I am no expert, just a fellow-traveler on this journey to joy. I have searched the Bible for truth and guidance on how to experience true joy in the face of deep suffering. I have discovered eight practices that I believe are helpful for the journey.

Slow Down. Trauma has forced me to slow down. I simply cannot work at my former pace. I believe the Lord sometimes allows us to suffer, so that we will run to Him. There is healing in His presence. Spend time with the Lord every day. Allow Him to heal your wounds. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 NIV

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

Surround Yourself with Kind People. When you are suffering, people may say and do things that hurt you more. Ask the Lord to send you a friend who will listen to you and love you without judgment.

Be Kind to Yourself. When we suffer as believers, we often feel guilt for not feeling joyful and brave. Give grace to yourself. God loves you and He understands.

Have Fun. Think back to the things you enjoyed before the grief. Make a list of things that brought you joy in the past. Choose one each week. They can be simple things like reading a book or walking in the park. Make a conscious effort to do something that makes you smile.

Listen to Worship Music. Worship music can change your heart. Find songs and artists whose music touches your soul. Praise can be a sacrifice when your heart is wounded. Let Him heal you through your praise. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV

Be Thankful. When we are in the darkness, it is so difficult to find reasons to be thankful. Discipline your mind to find the good things in your life. Make a gratitude list. Each day, make a list of things for which you are thankful.

Keep Serving. Grief can be all-consuming. We may need to step back from serving for a while, but I encourage you to continue to look for ways to serve the Lord and others, even in your pain. There is healing in this sacrifice, as well.

Look to Heaven. As God’s beloved children, we know that our time on earth is short. We have a promise that joy is coming. Focusing on the future, which is full of joy, helps us to find joy on the journey as well. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Melissa heiland
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About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Have you ever found joy in suffering? Please share!

Waves of Mercy

by Melissa Heiland

Life can be overwhelming between family, ministry, health, and finances. The to-do list grows and free time seems non-existent. The pressure I sometimes feel is akin to being buried beneath a heavy weight–of unmet needs and expectations. Under that load, it’s easy to lose perspective.

That is when I like to head to the beach. It is a place of rest and relaxation for me, a place where I can once again gain perspective. At the beach, my mind clears as I breathe the ocean air and observe some of God’s greatest gifts revealed through His glorious creation.

He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. Job 9:8 NLT

Standing at the shore, I am reminded of the faithfulness and power of God. The ocean has a rhythm, much like my life. The tides come in, bringing times of loss and cleansing. Then they retreat, leaving in their wake times of peace and rest. Sometimes, I feel as if the waves will overpower me, and yet, I know the One who calms the sea. He promises to keep me safe when my eyes are fixed on Him.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! Psalm 139:17,18 NLT

The copious sand at the shore is a beautiful reminder of God’s abundant love. In the Psalms, the Lord tells us that His thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand. Too many to count! When I am tempted to feel unloved and unseen, I need only fill my fist with sand and watch it sift through my fingers to remember how loved I am.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

And how I love the birds! As I watch them easily soar over the ocean, I am reminded, that with God, I too can soar above the stormy seas of my life. There is freedom in Jesus.

God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and in His creation. I’m so thankful for that. Sometimes, when the pace of life is fast and furious, we need to step away and be still, to let God speak to us and refresh our souls, giving us strength and peace to continue in the work He has called us to do.

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Waves of Mercy – insight and encouragement from Melissa Heiland on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Melissa heilandAbout the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Where do you go to find perspective?