Girlfriends in God - Apr. 6, 2011

April 6, 2011


Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I don’t know her real name, but Smiley is one of about 200 men and women who live in a leper colony near one of our church sponsored orphanages in a rural village of India. Dan and I had been asked to lead a worship service for the leper colony and I have to admit that I was both curious and terrified by the prospect of ministering to lepers. I had never even seen anyone with leprosy and had no idea what to expect. I prayed like crazy that God would somehow work through me to bless His wounded and broken children.

As the worship service began, Smiley sat in front of me in the dirt, a look of anticipation on her face, waiting for a message from God. I think the message was mine to hear. We had come to bring her joy and hope – but she already had both. Leprosy has ravaged her body, leaving her with no toes, no fingers and a death sentence. Cows, chickens and goats roam the dirty, rugged road in front of her thatched roof shack. Smiley does not enjoy the luxury of running water and electricity and food is scarce. Personally, I could see very little that Smiley had to smile about but it was her radiant smile that caught my attention and tugged at my heart.

After the service, I wrapped this precious woman in as big a hug as I could possibly give because she was so rarely touched by others. With the help of an interpreter, we celebrated the truth that one day she will once again have all of her toes and fingers. One day, she would be well and whole. Shelaughed like a little girl at the promise of being with Jesus and living with Him in heaven. 

Smileyhas fixed her eyes on the unseen and found joy and hope in the process. She does not depend upon the temporary things of this world for contentment. Hope gives her the strength to get up each morning and begin her daily search for food. The promise of Heaven comforts her each night when she lies down on a dirty cardboard mat to sleep. Smiley has nothing – yet she has everything - because she has learned, and lives out the truth that inner joy does not depend upon outward circumstances. We can learn a lot from Smiley.

God promises that if you know Him you will know true joy. Joy is not merely happiness but rather an unshakable confidence that God is in control. Therefore, He is our one and only source of joy and stands ready, waiting to saturate every circumstance with His presence. As His children, joy is ours to claim. If so, then where is it and why do we not experience a sense of confident celebration as we go through each day?

Maybe it is because of the “joy stealers” who lurk in the shadows, waiting to crush joy wherever they find it.

Choosing joy requires us to identify and eliminate the “joy stealers” in life. You may be allowing a person to take your joy. Maybe some painful experience from a shadowed yesterday is an obstacle of joy in your life today. Perhaps a fearful circumstance or a broken dream is the culprit.

I know life can be painful. I know life is often hard and unfair. I also know that God is in control. Therefore, if God really is God (and He definitely is) then we can and should be people of joy. I have read the final chapter of the Book and we win! Nothing and no one can take your joy without your permission. So, don’t give it! Choose joy! 

Let’s Pray
Father, forgive me for my shallow attitude about joy. I confess that my version of joy is often nothing more than an emotion or feeling based on current circumstances. Help me fix my eyes on You, the Author and Finisher of my faith. I want to live my life against the backdrop of eternity, exchanging temporary happiness for eternal joy.  I pray that I will learn to choose joy in whatever lies ahead. 

In Jesus’ name,


Now it’s Your Turn

Read the promise of Psalm 19:8. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” What is your main source of joy? 

Read Habakkuk 3:17-19. List three truths about joy in this passage. How can you apply these truths to your life? 

More from the Girlfriends
Joy has taken on a whole new meaning for me since I met Smiley. Why do I continually let the irrelevant things in life rob me of joy? I am making a new commitment to constantly “fix” my eyes on what really is important – my personal relationship with God – and refuse to allow the tyranny of the urgent and the meaningless to dictate the attitude of my heart and the direction of my life. Today, let’s choose God and in doing so, choose joy. 

Need help?Check out my CD, Laugh More – Live Better for ways to saturate your life with joy. (Also available as MP3 download

New E- Bible Study now available:What Am I Doing in This Pit? At some point in life, we will find ourselves in some kind of pit. Instead of looking for the nearest exit or frantically trying to claw our way out of the pit, we need to rest in God, discover the purpose of the pit and trust Him to deliver us.

Need something for your pain? Enroll in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study,How to Handle Hurtand learn how to face and deal with the pain in your life.

Need a friend?Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Wednesday, 06 April 2011.