Obstacles to Joy
by Todd Shupe
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
We all have stress and anxiety. These are obstacles to the happiness that we all seek. I think what is important is how we deal with these obstacles. A little bit of stress is natural and no problem. It can be helpful and protect us from dangerous situations.
Regardless of the source of our stress, we as Christians have a proven method to rid ourselves of it but it takes courage and faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Think about that for a moment – a peace that surpasses all understanding. Below are a few thoughts that hopefully will help us all find that peace and navigate the obstacles to happiness.
Everybody has regrets from their past. Our hindsight is always 20/20. Your past is your testimony today and not your destiny for tomorrow. The enemy will constantly seek to remind you of your past failures to rob you of the joy that God wants you to enjoy today. God wants to give us a future with hope. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Teenagers are often obsessed with what others think of them. As adults we also want to fit in and be held in high esteem. Our identify does not come from our social media profiles, gossip of others, or even the support of others. Our identify comes from Jesus. The Bible states, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
There is an old saying that time heals all wounds. This is not from the Bible but is generally true in my experience. Some wounds are healed within days, others years, and others are healed upon death. We often struggle with patience while we wait. The Psalmist wrote, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). God will heal us mentally and physically in His perfect time, not ours.
We let others control our happiness when we worry about what others think of us or when we are jealous because of the success of a neighbor. Our true joy is based on the fact that we are children of God. You will always have people that gossip about you behind your back. That is their burden to carry, not yours. We are blessed when we “learn to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Jealousy is a terrible emotion and a favorite tool of the enemy. If somebody else has success, we should celebrate with them. God does not have a finite number of blessings to bestow. The Parable of the Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 tells of a woman that has lost a coin but sweeps the house in search of it. “And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (Luke 15:9). Surely, we should rejoice and not be jealous when God’s favor is on our neighbor. Don’t we want them to join us in times of celebration also?
Prayer: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
About the Author:
Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science. Shupe worked as a professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.