In my hard times, the joys NEVER left, I just forgot to look for them…

“The thief comes only to steal and destroy;

I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” 

John 10:10  

These words have never rang more true for me during our time of “sheltering in place” and “social distancing.” I sometimes had to cling to them for dear life as I felt like I was sinking. Feeling lost, lonely, disconnected, distant, and afraid. 

Anyone else feel that way? Feel like you are barely holding on? Feeling guilty because you are in that place? Disappointed in yourself that you let it get that far? Upset with yourself because you aren’t trusting God?

Let me be the first to tell you that you are most definitely not alone in those places. There is no need to be ashamed or feel guilty, BUT it’s time to climb out of that place because we aren’t meant to stay there and because Jesus loves us so much and reminds us in John 10:10 that He has come to give us life and give it to the fullest. 

As I began to type this, I had the perfect plan of what I wanted to say, and then Jesus gently told me… “NOPE!” Instead, He reminded me about something He teaches me quite often: to CHOOSE joy in every circumstance! 

Why? Because this is where I see Him in all His glory and wonder! This is where I see His beauty, His absolute unfailing and unwavering love for me! The joys He put in my life are gifts and reminders of His love for me. 

In my hard times, the joys NEVER left, I just forgot to look for them, to choose them. I forgot they even existed. I probably (no, I did) chose to act like they didn’t even exist because my pain, heartache, and suffering was much more important for me to sit and hide in than to choose my joy in…

Guys, I missed it so many times! I missed all the amazing things the Lord had given me because I chose the enemy’s destruction over the Lord’s joys – the ones He handpicked just for me, the ones He knew I needed. 

I used to think my struggles were a punishment, like I had messed up too many times or had failed again and again at the same thing and that God had just had enough of me so my punishment was my hardships, my excruciating pains, and my heartaches. 

I failed to realize that the Lord was not punishing me, but shaping me, preparing me, and loving me to the exact space He wanted me to be in, through my journeys, and through my hardships. 

But, we are WORTH IT ALL to Christ! He has gone before us in hardships and knows us (Deuteronomy 31:8). He loves us so much that He pursues us as we struggle (Hebrews 13:5). He gives us our joys along the way so we can get a glimpse of the love He has for us. They are to remind us in our hard times that good is coming; it might not be the “good” we thought it should be, but it’s going to be exactly what we need. 

Stop for a second and think about those joys, those gifts from God, because they are there, and He is loving you through them! This is not to say that things won’t be hard, painful, or lonely; that things won’t hurt or continue to hurt for what feels like forever. But, you can rest assured knowing Jesus is walking with you. He is preparing you and loving you through it all and giving you joys to cling on to along the way.

This season of life has felt like a HUGE hardship. My heart has ached and I have felt alone. I shut myself off from people I love and people who love me just to make it seem as though I have it together, to not show my hurt… but why? 

We were not meant to walk about hardships alone; we were not created for that! We were created to walk together in our journeys and point one another to Christ along the way, especially when things are hard and painful, and when we struggle to look to Him. 

Let’s start walking alongside one another (I know there have been many times I have needed to be picked up because I continued to keep walking in my pain – proof why we should never do it alone) in love, grace, encouragement, and understanding, being unashamed in our struggles all while glorifying God through every step! 

So now it’s time for action! Reach out to someone you love and that loves you and talk about how you are truly doing during this time. Whether it’s good or bad, or somewhere in between, just start talking. Tell them how you are feeling during this crazy season of life! Be authentic with one another! Start reminding each other of the joys the Lord has given each one of us! Let’s spur one another to look to Jesus first, to rest in His love, and to find our hope in Him alone!

“It is the LORD who goes before you. 

He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. 

Do not fear or be dismayed.” 

Deuteronomy 31:8

(Shandra Fagundes serves as our KidsCo Assistant Director and has an overflowing love for children. She also has tons of jokes and has given us many laughs during our home church announcements! Best yet, she shares her heart in how these uncertain times have challenged her to grow.)

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