On a recent airline flight, I was assigned the last available seat in the coach section! The dreaded B seat. If you have ever flown on an airplane, you know that A is by the window, C is on the aisle and B is squeezed snugly between them. It’s the last place you want to be on an extended flight. (I have thought about selling T-shirts in airports that read, “I survived the B seat!”)
That day, as I approached my row, I noticed two of the largest people I have ever seen sitting in the A and C seats. I couldn’t even see the B seat. It was gone, consumed by half a person on each side. The fellow in the aisle seat said that he couldn’t get up, so if I wanted my B seat, I had to climb over him. I did and it was an adventure!
The next adventure was trying to find my seat belt. I almost gave up. After all, I figured, even if we had crashed at 500 mph, nobody on my row would have budged.
Suffice it to say that I eventually buckled up. But then I noticed I was sweating profusely. The two men on either side of me were producing heat – lots of heat. That’s when I started to laugh. The situation had reached epic comic proportions.
Soon, a flight attendant approached me and said, “I’ve been watching you since you boarded. You have had a smile on your face the whole time, even though you have the worst seat on the plane. Would you mind moving up to the first-class cabin? I’m working there, and we have an extra seat. I would like to talk to you about what’s keeping you so happy.”
I leaped out of my seat like a watermelon seed squeezed between two wet fingers. There are no middle seats in first class!
Before the flight was over, I shared with three flight attendants how Jesus Christ can keep the smile on any face. All three prayed and asked Him into their hearts.
It’s no surprise that the first flight attendant responded initially to a demonstration of joy. The most effective people in the world are those who are full of joy. David prayed in Psalm 51: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You” (v. 12-13, NKJV).
Over and over again, the Word tells us the importance of joy, especially in giving us strength and endurance in difficult times. In fact, James tells us to “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials (James 1:2). The one time we can’t afford to lose our joy is when we are struggling.
Here are three keys that will help you hold on to your joy during the tough times:
1)Focus on God’s promises, not your circumstances. Bible scholars calculate that there are more than 33,000 promises in Scripture, and every one of them belongs to you as a believer (see 2 Cor. 1:20). “These things I have spoken to you,” Jesus said, “that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). When you focus on the promise and not the problem, you release your faith – even when the pressure is on.
2)Realize the tough time you are going through will last only a little while. “Greatly rejoice,” Peter wrote, “though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Pet. 1:6). The Bible doesn’t say, “Yea, though I camp in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (see Ps. 23:4). The good news is you are passing through whatever valley you are in.
3)Give a sacrifice of joy! The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk concludes his book with this thought: When everything seems to be going wrong, that’s the time to lift up your hands and give God a “sacrifice of joy” (see Hab. 3:17-19). Even when you don’t feel like it, go ahead, raise your hands toward God and allow your praises to flow out of your mouth to Him. It’s OK to shout!
People want the joy that we have in Jesus. Let’s show it to them. We have what they are looking for!
For more information on Eastman Curtis visit his website at: www.eastmancurtis.com
Devotional used with permission of Author