Have you ever cried tears of joy? I remember once when Aaron was just an infant of 12 days old; it was one of the most difficult times for Jon and I as parents. Seven days earlier we had rushed our sweet little baby into the ER after a long night of calling the hospital because he refused to eat and finally he was now having violent seizures. It took nearly 24 hours to stop the seizures and now they were handing my tiny little boy back to me, telling me that he had only dehydrated and if I fed him tonight, we could go home. Since this was our 8th baby, deep down inside I knew there must be something more going on and I was very frightened. I was terrified that he simply would not eat. For the first 4 hours he refused and I panicked. My husband had gone home to be with the other children and I felt alone. I prayed, but continued to worry. I was suddenly reminded of the song, “Be Still and Know That I Am God.” I must admit, I still panicked, but I put my child, who was sound asleep in his bed, right next to me, I lay down and admitted to the Lord that I did not know how to be still. I cried out to my God that I knew I would not be able to sleep that night, but I would try to trust in Him and attempted to close my eyes. The next thing I remember was waking up to my crying, very hungry son…four hours later. He ate every 2-3 hours after that! I learned such a comforting lesson, My God is Able and HE IS GOD!
I chose this topic because sometimes I still struggle with finding joy during moments of great trials and fear. Shame on me! Do you ever feel like one of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness and no matter how many times the Lord does mighty wonders in your life, you still cry out and complain instead of exalting in His mighty wonders and power when trials come your way? I sure do! Well, there are answers! We will look at Biblical examples of overcoming fear and hardships and finding joy in the midst of them.
First, even in difficult circumstances, we can find Biblical examples of people praying joyfully. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 we find that we must pray for each other and in 2 Corinthians 1:5, we will find comfort in abundance when we share in Christ’s sufferings and we can do this through prayer. In Acts 12:6-16 we find Rhoda, the servant-girl and many people praying for Peter and he is released and they are joyful for his return!
Second, even in difficult circumstances, we can find Biblical examples of people preaching joyfully. The Apostles are beaten in Acts 5:40-42, yet even then they rejoice and are teaching and preaching, “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
We can read in Acts 13:50-14:1 that Paul and Barnabas taught and are filled with joy. And in Acts 14:19-22, after Paul is beaten, Paul and Barnabas preached, encouraging the disciples in the faith. Also, in Philippians 1:12-14 we are admonished to teach without fear, by Paul.
Third, and finally, even in difficult circumstances, we can find Biblical examples of people singing joyfully. Acts 16:22-32 is the beautiful and inspiring picture of pure faith and joy, “The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” While Paul and Silas are found singing here, you also find the example of them praying and later teaching, as well. This example of great faith and teaching resulted in the conversions of the jailer and his household.
We can go back into the OT to find other examples of singing. The most obvious is found in the book of Psalms. David regularly sings to the Lord during times of extreme trials. Psalm 6 is a wonderful example of a moment of despair turning to praise through song!
This is my favorite way to battle fear. It seems to calm my fears now, as well as the fears of my own children. It certainly seems like the easiest and most calming thing to do when our fears are at their highest. Songs that may help when you want to praise God instead of being fearful and when you would rather find joy might be songs that make us think about Jesus and His strength.
• Master the Tempest is Raging
“The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will, Peace be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea, Or demons, or men, or what-ever it be, ?No water can swallow the ship where lies The Master of ocean and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will, Peace be still! Peace be still!”
• Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”
• Tell Me the Story of Jesus
“Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him, Tell how he liveth again.
Love in that story so tender, Clearer than ever I see.
Stay let me weep while you whisper, ‘Love paid the ransom for me’
Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word,
Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.”
• Lamb of God
“I was so lost, I should have died, But You have brought me to Your side
to be lead by Your staff and rod, And to be called a lamb of God,
O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God, I love the holy Lamb of God. O wash me in His precious blood. My Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.”
Our trials and fears can turn to praise if we follow the examples set before us. Instead of dwelling on those fears or being taken down by our trials or temptations, we can train our thoughts to dwell on joyous things. We can choose to pray to the Lord and give all of our cares over to Him in order to find joy. We might even find ourselves being bold enough by choosing to let go completely of our fears and preach Christ and His Gospel to others! Take some first steps by choosing to step outside of our bitterness and fear and simply sing praises to the King. We can invite others to join us in song and even use this as a tool to reach others for Christ. The joy that we will feel will be evident and contagious and very soon our trials and fears will be things of the past!?
By Laura Warnes
Laura Warnes and her husband Jon serve with the Miller Street church of Christ. Jon works at the Bear Valley Bible Institute where he serves as Alumni Director. Laura is a homeschooling mom to their seven children still at home, (two have flown the coup) and is also a proud grandma to three beautiful grandchildren with one on the way in February.