Divine Exchange: Joy for Discouragement

By Natalie Beall

I don't know about you, but there are days when the discouragement bug bites me hard. I'm sure we all feel down in the dumps at some point, but sometimes, I'm prone to strap on a pair of waders and really bog down deeply into some serious muck and mire!

Just recently, I was warring with my emotions, feeling discouraged and defeated. The white flag of surrender was already waving. I was wearing my "I'm a bad mom" t-shirt, and self-pity was covering me like thick green slime. There I was, home from a hard day's work, struggling to be patient with my two young sons, knowing I had numerous things to do, and feeling exhausted! I was digging through growing loads of dirty laundry, agonizing over what to cook for supper, and eye-balling the clock so I wouldn't be late for an appointment. By now, I was somewhat frantic, to say the least. Suddenly, I felt the black clouds approaching. Yes, the "working mom dilemma" thunderstorm was on its way again, ready to pack a killer punch. After a few minutes of heavy rain, it dissipated.

But, for some foolish reason, I decided to stomp around in the
muddy puddles of guilt that remained. The "If only.." saga began to play over and over in my mind. "If only I had done this, if only I had done that. If only I could be a better wife, if only I could be a better mother. If only I could be more successful, if only..." Oh, please don't rewind! Fast forward...no, just STOP!

My brain felt like it was ready to explode and my heart was heavy with discouragement and guilt. Finally, I finally cried out for help. "Lord, please help me. What can I do to make this better? How can I better manage all this stuff? What do You want me to do?"

In an instant, the answer came; it was clear and simple. No, I didn't hear an audible voice, but the self-pity and guilt were washed away. I sensed the words, "Just enjoy it. Enjoy this season of your life." And a Bible verse came to mind: "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).

Needless to say, this revelation of truth became a defining moment in my life - the kind of moment when you stop and say, "I don't ever want to forget this." Those simple, yet liberating words, "enjoy it," have changed my life.

I realized that my time of living should not be consumed with the stresses of each day and the high expectations I put upon myself. Instead, I must enjoy daily the gifts my Father has given to me. These gifts come in all shapes and sizes, whether it's a busy day at work, growing mounds of dirty laundry, a ticking clock, a pantry full of mixed-matched ingredients, or the vivaciousness of two growing boys who have filled my heart with much joy. God will always provide the strength that I need. I have reason to rejoice !

Days of sadness will still come, but my heavenly Father has promised that His abundant joy will give me the strength to prevail in every situation. After all, He has promised in scripture that His children "can do all things through Christ" (Phil. 4:13).

Natalie Beall is a free-lance writer, and the Secretary and Music Director of First Baptist Church in Soperton, Georgia. She and her husband, Jeremy, enjoy small-town living with their two sons, Griffin, 5 and Collin, 2.


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