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You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness. Psalm 30:11 NCV

“I can do it myself!”

The battle cry of the four-year-old! It may be trying to tie a pair of shoes, or putting a shirt, or any number of things. When met with that challenge you have basically two options, perhaps three. It depends on the task at hand and if any personal injury is possible.

You could try to talk the ‘expert in life’ through the options and, by so doing, work your way into the solution. Rarely works, but young parents usually try this approach…once.

You could strong arm the situation. Rip the task right out of the hands of the over-confident zealot. It will get the job done better and faster on your part. However the child will be frustrated, angry and, if you strong-arm enough times, will lose the self-confidence to try new things. The result? Fear of failure and the loss of joy that comes from accomplishing something.

A third option is often the best for the child and hardest for the parent. Option three involves standing idly by and watching and waiting to be needed. The key to this option is that you are always there to provide protection when needed, advice when asked and encouragement in the process. You are ready and willing to step in when needed to assist with the completion of the task.

The risk with this option is that the job may indeed be accomplished but not nearly as well as you could have done. It may be completed satisfactorily, but in a much longer time frame. The benefits are that the child will learn his limitations, and also learn that you can be trusted to come to their aid when needed.

Our heavenly Father is an option three kind of guy. Did you notice that the options for dealing with a four year old apply to every age? We all have the ‘four-year-old’ mentality that screams that we can manage life in our own ways, our own power, and our own time.

Frustration, anger and bitterness come in when we realize we can’t do ‘it’ alone. We can’t hold this marriage together one more day. We can’t carry the responsibilities of our co-workers and our own. They need to chip in some energy. We can’t do it by ourselves. We can’t risk our entire lives with this child that seems intent on destroying our family reputation. We simply can’t do it anymore.

When you come to the point in life when you realize you are out of options. When you realize your strength is gone and your resolve to succeed is dwindling, the first thing to leave is your joy.

Life doesn’t hold the same excitement. Your relationships seem to be more of a chore than a blessing. The pastor’s sermons are dry, the church becomes irrelevant, the Christian life seems impossible.

When our joy is taken from us it robs us of our will to go on. That’s when our Heavenly Father steps in. He’ll never intrude without our asking. He’ll never abandon us when we seek him out.

Jesus came to earth to show us the way of joy. He can take the clouds of sadness and replace them with joy if you will let him in.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know the burden I’m bearing right now. You know the frustration and fatigue that are destroying my will to move forward. Thank you that the things I struggle with today can be turned over to you and you will walk me through the challenges of life. I praise your holy name. Amen.

 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,” Psalm 30:11

In Old Testament times when people were in deep distress they would put on sackcloth and wail in anguish. This was particularly true when they mourned over the death of a loved one. As it is today, this was perhaps the deepest agony of all. Death brings with it the loss of dreams, the loss of companionship and the loss of hope for the future.

In Psalm 30 David recounts the many times that God has delivered his people from a variety of disappointments and tragedies. In verse 11 of this song of praise he tells us how, in the midst of their agony God brought them joy. The rough and uncomfortable clothing of sackcloth became clothing of joy and comfort. Their songs of agony became songs of praise.

As we travel along the journey we call life there are many times when tragedy comes upon us. It can be the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job or a broken relationship. People we trust let us down. We let people down we trust and love dearly. We grow old and change becomes harder to adjust too. Health and financial woes remove our hopes and dreams.

How we react to the hard times of life is really up to us. We can dwell on the pain or we can allow God to turn even our own most desperate times into a time of joy and comfort. How we respond to adversity is largely dependent on our view of God and of ourselves.

If we allow the words and actions of other people to determine how we feel about ourselves and God then we will feel the pain of life’s disappointments. Life will seem hopeless. Pain and discomfort will be the rule of our days and sleeplessness will spend the night with us.

If we realize God’s great love and provision for us then we enable Him to make our darkest times to be times of comfort and joy. It is only God that can take the sackcloth of our mistakes and the abuse of others and turn it to joy. It is only through God’s love that we can endure the hardship of tragedy that comes our way.

You are a child of the God of the universe. You are His most cherished possession and the apple of His eye. Leave the ashes and sackcloth of yesterdays mistakes and abuse be replaced with the comfort of God’s love for you. Replace the wailing for the failures and tragedies of the past with praise for the fact that through faith in Jesus Christ you will see a better tomorrow.

You won’t find lasting joy here on earth through relationships, toys, wealth, power or popularity. Lasting joy comes only through complete faith in Jesus and the realization of God’s great love for you.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I’m in such turmoil today. You know the pain I’m feeling. You know the mistakes and tragedies of my past that handcuff me. I’m trapped by feelings of hopelessness and despair. To be honest there have been times of late when I’ve doubted your love or even your presence. I ask that you would empower me through faith in Jesus and the power of your Spirit to clothe myself with your joy and comfort even as I walk through these dark and lonely times. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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