I often think about people who are not filled with God's joy and peace. This fills me with sadness. I ache for these people, suffer, allow myself to be filled with pain, I feel on the verge of crying--the thought of not being filled with these fruits of the Spirit is horrible. I often wish everyone else was filled with joy and peace instead of me. I often sacrifice my own joy and peace because I don't like being filled with them when others aren't. But I know I need to arm myself with these valuable weapons against the enemy. And I need to help share and spread these fruits of the Holy Spirit to others.
My past was filled with unbearable pain and suffering. Constant anxiety from wanting to please God and others. Constantly being stuck in work. Constantly beating myself up in my head for being a horrible and unloving person because I was so stuck working on homework instead of helping my family with chores. I believed the lies thrown at me that I was very very selfish. I struggled constantly with body image. Feeling too fat or too skinny. Feeling ugly. I was filled with anxiety about time and getting everything done. Constant anxiety and fear of not being able to do everything I had planned. I would plan everything up to the minute. I was buried in my work. Buried in my pain. An anxious mess. HORRIBLY ANXIOUS. And then I turned to exercise. And food. And I got stuck in emotional eating. That was HORRIBLE. I felt so ashamed of myself. Filled with guilt and anger at myself constantly.
But learning about God's forgiveness filled me with joy and hope. I learned to constantly just lay down on the ground bowed before the Lord and surrender EVERYTHING to Him. All my anxiety, all my pain, shame, guilt, and anger. All my selfish desires. To thank Him for His AMAZING love. To ask Him to do His will not mine. To rest in His love for me. To rest in the fact that He is in control.
It took God bringing me to rock bottom after rock bottom to force me to surrender everything to Him again and again. But I am thankful for this. Because the joy and peace that the Holy Spirit filled me with from doing this is AMAZING. And I still have to surrender everything to God CONSTANTLY. Every day. Every minute. But it's worth it.
I've learned not to expect any people to satisfy me but God. That I need to find comfort in Him being my true Father, Friend, and Lover. I can't try finding comfort in anything of the world. Not food, not movies, not anything worldly that doesn't involve loving God and others. Especially when anxiety, anger, selfishness, discontent, hard times, tiredness, sinful thoughts, etc strike---I cannot try to turn to the world for comfort!!
I need to find my strength from joy in how much God loves EVERYTHING about me, how much God loves and forgives me UNCONDITIONALLY even though I deserve death and hell. I am filled with peace, joy, and strength from knowing God promises me eternal life that will be SO MUCH BETTER than this horrible evil world and than anything we can imagine!!!!! There is so much joy in that!!!!!!!! God wants to fill us with peace even during the hardest of times. It takes constant prayer and Spiritual warfare. It takes getting away and praying EVERY time you feel even a little bit discontent until He fills you with peace again. That means constant prayer and battling all the lies Satan is whispering to you. It takes SURRENDERING EVERYTHING you are worried about or struggling with or that is sinful to God constantly. It takes work, but God is always ready and waiting to fill you with peace again.
"What is joy? Joy is something that we choose to express. It's not pie in the sky; it doesn't come and go like the wind. And where does this kind of joy come from? Well, as you know, it's a matter of attitude that comes from God's Holy Spirit dwelling in us and our confidence in God, the belief that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening, or will happen."I've also learned that this peace and joy is weakened by the world VERY quickly. It takes constant prayer and getting away from the world to spend time with the Lord again to get it back fully. For me, reading the Word, praying, talking about God, worshiping God, listening to Christian music, reading Christian books, learning more about God, LOVING God, getting to know others, helping others, listening to others, sharing with others, and LOVING others allow me to stay filled with this joy and peace. Everything else is just unsatisfying. Everything that doesn't relate to loving God or others tends to weaken the joy and peace that God gives me through the Holy Spirit. I constantly pray that God will fill me with peace even during the hardest of times, and He does. Underneath it all, the Holy Spirit fills me with a lasting peace in knowing God loves me and promises eternal life. But when the anxiety or discontent strikes, I know I NEED prayer so the joy and peace can be AMAZING again. When God fills me with His AMAZING joy and peace there is no more room for anxiety and sinfulness and selfishness in my heart.-United Church of God sermon transcript
We are in a constant Spiritual battle. We need to fight. We need to say "No!" to Satan's constant lies. God gives us peace and joy through the Holy Spirit. We need to stop our hearts from being filled with anxiety, anger, selfishness, and sinful thoughts. We need to stop turning to the world for comfort. God is more powerful than the evil one, and God's AMAZING love is what TRULY satisfies and brings joy and peace!!!
"For the joy of the Lord is your strength."