JOY IN CHAOS

How far into the new year are we allowed to go before it becomes socially unacceptable to say Happy New Year? Some believe that after the 1st of January it’s already weird to say Happy New Year whereas there are some Nigerian aunties and uncles who beg to differ and will still greet you with a Happy New Year in April. This is the first time I am formally addressing my blog readers so no matter how deep into the year we are, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year!

The first few days and weeks of this year have been rather reflective for me and I’m sure for many of you reading it has been the same: You reflect on the past year and ponder on what the year ahead holds. Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish theologian once said “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” I love this quote because it is only when you reflect on the past that you have an appreciation of what has happened and you gain the strength to face tomorrow. The year 2021, looked different for everyone, I can speak for myself and say that it was not all smiles and laughter. Often my tears, frustration, and pain were masked behind a simple yet infectious smile. Some might say that’s being fake but I tell you there are times when you have to faith it till you make it. I will speak more about this on my blog and podcast this year. At the start of last year, I shared a blog post entitled “Roses are red, God is on my side, in 2021 I wanna be…”; under the shadow of God’s wings. So throughout the year, my main goal was to reside under God’s wings; this meant trusting God wholeheartedly. I have learned that when you reside under the shadow of God’s wings as we are instructed in Psalms 91, you will certainly have JOY in chaos.

Joy is in an unexplainable emotion, as I have previously stated in a previous blog post. Joy is superior and different from happiness. Happiness is dependent on what is happening, but Joy is dependent on God. Since God never changes, Joy is always in abundance. What does this look like? Having Joy means that your world may appear to be crumbling but you wake up every morning with peace that passeth all understanding. It means knowing that God will supply all your needs according to His riches even when your bank account is in red or the payment is declined. It means knowing that God is a problem solver even when your situation seems impossible. It means knowing that God is a way maker even when it seems like you have run out of options. It means knowing God is the light in the darkness even when all that is around you seems dire, dark, and hopeless. It means knowing God is a promise keeper even when people say no to your requests or doors get shut in your face.

It means knowing God will you give you joy amid chaos.

I am sure this is not the first time you are hearing the phrase “Choose Joy”, it is easy to choose joy when life is going your way, things are working out as ‘you’ planned. However, when the table turns and the clouds turn dark and it seems like you are running up an escalator going down it’s harder to obey the command to choose joy. When God inspired Paul’s writings to include this command He knew the future won’t always have clear sunny skies and there will be trying moments, where we want to throw in the towel yet the command, remains unchanged – choose Joy in Chaos.

The ability to choose Joy in chaos can be illustrated and understood by nature, let me explain. In the natural world, chaos looks like natural disasters: avalanches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, dust storms, floods, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, blizzards, heatwave, droughts, thunderstorms, tornadoes, firestorms, wildfires – these disasters are notoriously known for their impact on everything in their path. In particular, we hear about houses and trees being uprooted thus causing more damage. Taking myself back to geography class I recall that there are a variety of measures put in place for areas at risk of these natural disasters to minimise the extent of chaos caused. For example, making sure the house sits above flood level protects it from flooding; bolting the house to the foundation helps it withstand earthquake tremors; storm shutters protect glass windows from shattering, and so on…

Likewise in our lives, we also have situations that threaten to ruin, shake and uproot all that we are familiar with. Just like the houses have reinforcement against natural disasters we can also have that assurance by having a firm foundation. That’s how you’ll make it when the wind is blowing and threatening to knock you out. 

The ability to choose Joy in chaotic moments is based on the foundation we lay. In the bible, there is an account about a metaphorical natural disaster: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders which can be found in Matthew 7:24-27. This parable summarises that although the houses looked the same on the outside their foundations (sand or rock) differentiated them. The real foundation of our lives is usually hidden, the storms we encounter reveal the foundations we have. In this upcoming year, the storms of our lives will test our foundations, so we all must lay firm foundations that will keep us grounded.

How do we lay firm foundations?

The surest foundation is The Word of God, in which we are taught to trust solely in Jesus Christ. We are also reminded in John 1:1 that Jesus is the living Word of God. Jesus is the rock that holds us together when storms threaten to uproot and displace us. Do not base your foundation or faith on feelings, experiences, or in people – it must be based on Jesus Christ. If a person’s foundation is built on a miracle God demonstrated in the past, when it seems like God is now silent and has not answered their house will be devastated if that was their only foundation. However, if you know it is Jesus that holds your life together and you develop that solid relationship with him you will always have the ability to choose joy in the choas.

Maverick City Music released a song last year entitled “Firm Foundation” – you must check it out if you haven’t done so yet. Allow me to use the lyrics to make a declaration to you:

Christ is my firm foundation, The rock on which I stand. When everything around me is shaken, I am glad my faith is in Jesus because He has never let me down. He is faithful through generations so He won’t fail now. Jesus is faithful in every season. I have Joy in chaos, I have peace that makes no sense. I won’t be going under. I am not held by my own strength.

I do hope you treasure the words of this song and take steps today to build a firm foundation that will sustain and uphold you through this year.

Stay blessed,

Dara xo

December 2021

A favourite emotion of mine is JOY. It is independent of our daily battles & struggles but dependent on God. Unlike the UK Sun, God’s presence in our lives is constant and never dries up. May Joy be the genre of your life. As the year draws to an end, draw near to God’s promises and experience the strength only His joy provides. Any wasteland you may find yourself in will not have the final word. When you remember the past year and your mind wanders down a gloomy and unpleasant path, STOP & REJOICE. 

Choosing joy and remembering who God is and what He has done will not only turn your frown upside down; it causes His light to radiate and give you a permanent facial glow.

Have a Delightful December!

April 2021

Wouldn’t it be a relief to find out that the past year was an April fool’s joke and life would return as normal? Unfortunately, that’s not the case but, God is a ‘God who restores’, so we always get the last laugh. Don’t take things that are happening to you too seriously; learn to laugh as it lightens the load you carry. The password into God’s presence isn’t necessarily the loudest cries but is thanksgiving and joy. Declare that: My mourning will turn into dancing, and my mouth will be filled with laughter and joy. I exchange my pain & heartbreak for a garment of praise. My cup is not just half full; it is overflowing.

Have an Amazing April!

Stay blessed,

Dara x

Happy new month – December

December already wow! this year has truly flown by. The devil loves working over time during this festive period by sowing sadness where there has been joy, he attempts to dampen our spirits as we celebrate the successes of the year. But today I rebuke, cancel & destroy every assignment & attack of the enemy & cancel every curse or negative word ever spoken against your life and especially your joy in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen! Have a delightful December! 

אַשְׁרֵי – ‘esher

What is ‘esher? ‘esher is the Hebrew word for Happiness.

Today, the 20th of March 2016 is the first day of spring but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Today also marks the International Day of Happiness. What a day to celebrate? 🙂

So back to ‘esher.

Definition:

  1. Happiness, blessedness

a. often used as interjection

b. blessed are

The word for Psalms in Hebrew means praises or hymns, so it is not surprising that this Old Testament book has the most references to the word ‘esher. Where there is happiness, praise follows. Or is it possible for an unhappy person to truly praise the Lord?

In this post, I’ll highlight 7 points on how we can ensure that our lives are filled with ‘esher. I chose the number 7 because in the bible it often represents divine perfection, totality on completion. I pray that you will be able to find ways to have total happiness in these 7 points. 

1.WALK IN THE CORRECT COUNSEL

Psalms 1:1 says “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”

  • Blessings are to the men (& women) that don’t associate themselves with the ways of the wicked. He or she does not take part in their sinful actions, agree or  follow them.
  • In the bible, there is a general principle that you reap what you sow. Galatians 6:8 says: Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
  • Living righteously helps us to avoid the stings and sorrows that many people in the world experience which decrease their chances of experiencing happiness. Psalms 32:10 warns “many sorrows shall be to the wicked. But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”
  • Of course, there may be times when the righteous will suffer but if you look at the bigger picture there are things that you will not have to face because you have been righteous. For example; if you don’t walk in the counsel of those who practice in sexual immorality you will not have to worry about the struggles of living with sexually transmitted diseases.
  • I’m reminded about not making decisions to get short term happiness  as they may cause you to be bitter in the long run.

2. FEAR THE LORD

Psalms 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.

Psalms 128:1-2 1 How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.

 Proverbs 28:14  How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

  • When you fear the Lord it doesn’t mean that you are scared of him. The Hebrew word associated with the fear of God is viewed as a positive quality to have, it means  to respect or to reverence.
  •  Having a healthy type of fear of God means that you fear the consequences of disobedience. Therefore the fear enables us to take Him and His laws seriously. When we fear the Lord we delight in His commands and therefore we shall receive His benefits.
  •  When we follow God’s  commands we will be happy because all shall be well with us.
  •  When we go against God’s commands that is when we are subjected to disappointment and sadness.

3. LEARN TO BE CONTENT

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 6:9

  • This point speaks to me so much. We are led to believe that the grass is greener on the other side. This is a lie directly from Satan. He tries to convince us that we only need something that we don’t already have and that we would never be truly content.
  • We will never be happy about anything if you’re not content with what you have.
  • When we build our lives on having things we will never be satisfied. The more we have, the more we will want.
  • As Christians, we need to learn to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s power to help us to be content. IMG_7299
  • If you find yourself always wanting more and not being satisfied ask God to remove that desire and teach you to be content in every situation. He will supply all your needs in a way that he knows is best for us.
  •  With snap chat, twitter, insta and other different social media it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life with the life of others. But if you do not already know, Comparison is the thief of joy!
  • You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take time to water your grass it would be just as green.
  • Happiness lies within your attitude and not what you have

4.  DO THINGS FOR OTHERS

Psalm 41:1 How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.

Proverbs 14:21 He who despises his neighbour sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor.

  • The Bible often speaks of God’s care for the poor and His the blessings he gives to those who share the same concern.
  • God blesses us as we bless others. By blessing others we are opening up opportunities to experience true happiness.
  • The second verse is also very applicable to young people living in today’s society. When we despise those around us we are sinning. However, when we are gracious (aka. courteous, kind, pleasant) we will receive true happiness. Being a hater does not profit us, we end up living lives filled with negative emotions.
  • “If you want to feel good, do good.”

5. DWELL IN THE LORD’S PRESENCE 

Psalms 84:4-5 How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. 5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!

  • Yes, we can indeed meet and fellowship with God anywhere at any time, but by going into a church building we are making an effort in stepping aside from a busy mainstream life to a place where we can meditate and pray.
  • We can find joy (happiness) not  by simply being in the building  but  in the praying, singing, teaching, preaching and fellowship that takes place there.
  • Psalms 16:11 reminds us that “in the presence of God there is fullness of joy”

6. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE FORGIVEN 

Psalm 32:1-2 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

  • In the gospels, we see that when Jesus healed/ forgave  people and gave them a second chance they were happier.
  • We have also been given this great opportunity. Being aware that our sins have been washed by His blood and that we’ve been cleared of guilt makes us happier.
  • Knowing that God doesn’t hold a grudge against us because of the sins we commit produces a happy feeling.

7. RELISH THE SCRIPTURES

Jeremiah said that “When [God’s] words came, [he] ate them; they were [his] joy and [his] heart’s delight” Jeremiah 15:16

  • As Christian’s, we have a reason to rejoice in the Word of God. It comforts us in time of trouble, it keeps us from sinning ( I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you Psalms 119:11). The bible provides us with the strength we need to overcome temptation and deal with our daily lives.
  • When we read the bible, we read about others that have trod the same road as we are and have won the victory. The bible gives us hope and assurance which ultimately manifests as happiness in our lives.

So those are just 7 points on how to have lives filled with ‘esher. I pray that we will be able to add these principles of happiness to our lives, In Jesus Name.

Be optimistic. Hope for the best. Expect things to turn out well. Worry is the arch-enemy of happiness. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it is only when we get somewhere in life or that one thing we’ve wished for happens that we will experience happiness. Find the little things in life that make you happy. 

Stay Blessed & Do what makes you happy,

Dara Dare

P.S – Please listen to the song below called “Do you wanna be happy?” by Kirk Franklin as you reflect on the points above.