There is joy and peace when we stop striving and start following.
Life is often challenging. Here in Australia I think it’s fair to say the struggles of the majority are not always the same as those in third world countries. It is still a small percentage of people here compared to the rest of the country who struggle to find a meal or a place to sleep…our basic standard of living is much higher.
Statistics I have heard seem to highlight social and mental health issues. Dysfunction seems to be like a cancer eating away the joy of many, yes way too many people here in Australia from my observations of real life.
This problem has symptoms of a lack of joy and peace in people’s lives. I’ve purposely left out ‘purpose’ because I see the struggle in people who seem to have their purpose sorted out…yes people with great professional careers and this includes those who profess Christ.
My heart aches for people; people who seem to try so hard, yet unintentionally display actions which scream out a life lacking peace and joy. Actions which lack love, empathy, compassion, gentleness and humility. Actions which scream, “Why is life so hard?” and, “I will do whatever it takes for my life to be successful!”
My heart aches for people like this because I know this struggle myself. I don’t think anyone is immune from this struggle…this life-sucking, depleting cancer-type problem. I do however believe there is an antidote.
This is the antidote: I truly believe there is joy and peace when we stop striving in our own strength and ideas, and start simply following Jesus as His disciple.
What does this mean?
It means when we STOP striving to ‘make a successful life’ or caring about becoming a leader. To stop worrying about what other people think. To stop waiting for the ‘next chapter’ before we freely love and give. To stop having ourselves and our own life as an idol – idols can come in many forms; relationships, wealth, status, material items and so on…even being a great Christian leader! You see, there’s nothing wrong in working hard (the bible endorses such behaviour), the problem is when the end goal becomes our first priority, and we don’t continue to journey in humility with Jesus.
It's like we say, “Thanks Jesus for saving me, I’ll see you in heaven when I get there, chat later or actually when I get stuck again! You’re the best!”
And then when things go wrong in our life, and we lack peace and joy from the continual hard-effort and slog we say, “What? This isn’t what I agreed to when I accepted Jesus…Where is my peace and joy?”
We MUST come back to a place of prayerful, humble examination before The Lord and realise we have made ourselves Lord rather than obedient, disciple.
A disciple lives each day in humility at His feet and service, seeking the welfare of others first - receiving His joy and sustenance to do so, and His peace to sleep securely each night.
A disciple lets their life go, not just once, but each day, and lets Jesus be in charge.
A disciple stops striving to achieve and enjoys the journey; waiting with expectant joy for the good plan to unfold…
The enemy wants to discredit the testimony of Jesus to save and transform, so will attack your resolve to continue life as a disciple.
A chapter of scripture which has really helped me is Isaiah 42.
This chapter begins by speaking of Jesus. The ‘light to the nations’ whom saves us from eternal separation from God. The One whom is our ‘new covenant’…who imputes us His robes of righteousness, who sets us free from the darkest, internal prison. The One who gives us true reason to sing a ‘new song of joy and praise’ each and every day…giving our life a new definition!
Verses 1-9 give us Jesus, the ‘light of the nations’ – the light which we with Him in us as born-again Christians reflect to the world. This ‘light’ is gentle, righteous and faithful.
Verses 10-17 is an amazing testimony to what God through Jesus Christ will do in the lives of individuals. He will give them a voice to joyfully sing and shout out His praise and proclamation for He will transform their lives from a barren wasteland and darkness, into lives of peace and joy when they give up their idols.
Verses 18-20 are so powerful for us as disciples as they describe how our lives should be; totally dedicated just as Jesus was and still is.
Verses 21-25 introduce chapter 43 which speaks of full restoration which The LORD is doing and will complete through Jesus when Jesus returns.
Are you struggling to know Jesus’ joy and peace?
If so, I urge you to let go of your striving and let Him be in charge. Let go of any idol which is trying to cling close and take the rightful place of Jesus. Remember EVERYTHING here is temporary, only our souls are not. Pray without ceasing to know His will, and then obediently walk in it; for there you will find His peace and joy and energy to do so, for you will remain close to Him and not distant.
Remember the yolk of Jesus is not heavy and depleting, it is light and easy. His service will build you up and bear MUCH fruit for His glory and Kingdom. In Him, as a humble disciple you will find the antidote…the One who is the fount of true joy and peace!
Let me leave you with Kari Jobe, 'Be still my soul'.