These days we live in…how often do you catch yourself taking deep, down-to-your-toes sighs because of all the sad or bad news you hear? One friend is so depressed that she has isolated from everyone. A good friend from my hometown is in constant pain and is facing serious back surgery. Another friend discovered, after her mom had a fall, that mom’s cancer has spread to her bones…these relentless robbers of joy attack us each day.
And I haven’t even mentioned what’s happening on the world stage.
What Do We Do With Robbers?
Usually, when we think about a thief, our minds go to bank robbers or someone who robs a Seven Eleven. What happens to those thieves? Normally, someone calls the police. Hopefully, they are captured and eventually are imprisoned for their crime. Of course, that isn’t always how it ends, but we can wish for the best.
The point is, in the best case scenario, robbers are captured and put out of business.
Robbers? What Robbers?
However, every day many, if not most of us allow thieves into our minds and hearts to steal from us. We’re often not aware of it, but before we know it, we have been robbed blind, as the saying goes. For instance, like my friend who is deeply depressed, we begin to believe that God has forgotten us forever or that He has turned His face away from us. Or worse, that we aren’t worthy of His love.
Furthermore, we think that our enemies (whoever that is for you, spiritual or physical,) has triumphed over us!
Do you think this is new with you or me? Focusing on our circumstances is as old as Psalm 13. Moreover, in Psalm 142, David was hiding in a cave from his enemies. He was in imminent danger…and he thought God had forgotten him.
Look on my right hand and see,
For there is no one who acknowledges me;
Refuge has failed me;
No one cares for my soul.Psalm 142:4, NKJV
Do you see how insidious these robbers of joy can be? (By the way, David eventually saw the truth.)
Recognizing Robbers of Joy
The first step is to recognize our robbers. Some are obvious and huge, like those mentioned in the first paragraph. Others may be an insensitive remark someone makes to you that causes a cascade of negative thoughts within. Or what about the rude driver who cut in front of you then made a rude gesture in his rear view mirror? What?! Perhaps a co-worker has a knack for saying or doing just the wrong thing toward you…these are potential joy robbers. Here are a few more thought joggers:
- constant irritations
- feeling overwhelmed
Restorer of Joy
We don’t have to chained these thieves. However, to restore our joy takes discipline, especially if it has become a habit to let the robbers in the front door, so to speak. In fact, if that is the case, we have trained our brain into a negative thought pattern. Fortunately, thank God, our brains can be retrained through therapy.
In addition, there is an ultimate answer. In the book of Philippians, Chapter 4, I believe God provides a way to a restoration of joy.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Can you see where the discipline that is required? Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. Then he repeats it….as though it’s very important.
- be gentle
- don’t be anxious about anything (but God, you don’t know my situation!) Yes, love, He does.
- tell God everything and be grateful for everything
- then you will know such an amazing peace, like you have never known before
The last verse explains how we keep the robbers out. This part requires us to be purposeful. In time and by God’s grace, it is possible. Focus your mind on things that are:
- of good report
Meditate, spend your time thinking on these things rather than negative things. Paul said if we practice these things, the peace of God will be with us. And of course, we’re already rejoicing in God, (v.4.)
THIS is where we find our lasting joy and peace, my sisters. God is faithful to His Word…and He never lies to us. ♥️