There are a lot of things in life that make us happy and those things look different for everyone. It might be getting to watch a beautiful sunset, a long jog around the lake, celebrating your birthday, or receiving a big promotion at work. These things that make us happy are gifts from the Lord and we should be grateful for them, but happiness itself tends to be dependent on our circumstances. Joy is different. We can choose to have joy in both the good and the hard times because joy doesn’t depend on what’s going on around us. Lasting joy comes from the Lord and we know that He never changes. We can trust that He is in control of every situation so we can have joy no matter what.
MEMORY VERSE: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again - rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
During the time of the Judges, a man named Elkanah lived in Israel and had two wives. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not. Back then it was a really big deal to have kids. Peninnah made fun of Hannah all the time and that made Hannah very sad. However, Hannah knew God was good and trustworthy so she prayed to Him. She told Him how she felt and that she knew He was in control. A priest named Eli overheard her praying and after she explained to him why she was so upset, he encouraged her to keep trusting in the Lord. Eventually God gave Hannah a son and she named him Samuel. Ultimately Hannah’s joy didn’t come because God had given her what she wanted. Her joy came from knowing who God really was and trusting that He is always in control.
At dinner this week read Philippians 4:4-9 to your family. Ask your family what those verses say about where joy and peace are found. What does it say about worrying? What does it say about talking to God? Have your family commit to encouraging each other to turn to God in moments of feeling sad or in moments of feeling discouraged. God is in control of everything and He desires to hear from us!
While driving with your family, ask your kids what, if anything, is hard in their lives. As they respond be sure to listen and empathize with whatever it is. Ask them if they have taken those things to God in prayer. Encourage them to remember that God is in control, that He is aware of the hard things in their life and He cares about them. Spend time praying with your kids. Thank God for how big and good He is and ask Him to give you and your kids joy in the midst of hard things.
As you are putting your family to bed for the night, share with them what it means to delight in God. Delighting in God starts by seeing Him as the most admirable and desirable person in the universe! Admiration is something we experience all the time. We might admire certain athletes because of their physical prowess or a musician for their ability to write lyrics or to play an instrument. Delighting in God is understanding, on the deepest of level, that HE is the most admirable being to ever exist! Have your kids tell you things about God that they admire.
Pick out a new puzzle for your family to put together. Start by giving your kids just one piece of the puzzle and ask them to tell you what picture you are going to put together. Then give them a couple more pieces and ask the same question. Start putting the puzzle together without all of the pieces or looking at the full picture on the box lid and ask them if they are having hard time knowing what goes where and how it is all supposed to come together. Explain that life can be like that sometimes. We’re trying to make sense of things without all of the puzzle pieces or seeing the full picture of how it works out. Thankfully, God knows the full picture. He’s in control, and He has a good plan. He also gives us His Word that tells us how everything is going to eventually come together when Jesus comes back and how to navigate life in the meantime. So, we can have joy knowing God is in control, and remembering that one day, we will get to be with Him forever in heaven. As you talk, you can show them the box lid and share the rest of the pieces so you can finish your new puzzle together!
Pray and thank God for for being in control of everything and ask Him to help you have joy in every circumstance!
Next week we will get to learn that because Jesus paid it all, we can be a joyful example for others!
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