I had the privilege of sharing a thought at our church this week on the subject of “Audacious Joy.” A portion of that has really stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you today. It’s a quick lesson I’ve learned from my current season of fatherhood, but I think it can encourage you.
Malachi is a pretty easy kid to raise. He’s always willing to play, laugh, eat, and be the center of attention. Recently, we’ve been trying to overcome a challenge with him. It’s all fun and games until he’s not allowed to be right next to us. This has become quite a struggle since we both work full-time and on church days we need him to go to kids church. God bless the countless nursery team members who have endured the wrath of Malachi’s crying fits. We got some wise counsel on how to address this from a parenting class at church and employed one of the techniques we learned called “room time.”
In short, room time is independent play time where Malachi learns to be content without us near him. We set an egg timer for a certain duration, close him in his room with his toys, and return when the timer is up with lots of praise and one of his favorite treats: raisins. The first day of room time our goal was five minutes. This was the longest five minutes you could ever imagine. The shrieks and noises this boy made were otherworldly. By the time we returned he was beat red and out of breath. We started clapping since he made it five minutes and through his hyperventilating, he started clapping with us, not knowing why but not wanting to miss the chance to celebrate.
Each day we’d add a little more time to the timer. When we’d leave he’d start crying again, but eventually he realized that we’d always come back. This realization allowed him to play peacefully and wait for our return so we could all clap together. Now we’ve worked up to our goal of 30 minutes and when we tell him it’s room time, he gets a slight cringe on his face but he immediately starts clapping and celebrating.
That taught me something.
Even though he’d rather not be in room time, he’s learned from experience that it is temporary and that we will always come back for him. So rather than pitching a fit when it happens, he starts responding with the clapping that the knows will happen when it’s over.
What if we faced all of our difficulties that same way? It’s never easy or comfortable to face the challenges of life. We all know, however, that God always comes through for us. Instead of crying, screaming, and kicking in the face of difficulty, what if we took a cue from Chi and started rejoicing? What if we respond at the beginning in the way we know we will feel at the end? I don’t think this is one of those fake-it-til-you-make it kind of decisions. It’s a deep-seated trust in the character of God. Your ability to rejoice in the face of trial comes from your trust that God will never leave you stranded in it.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 TLB
If you want to jumpstart your joy, tell God what you need and then don’t forget to thank Him for how He’s already answered you. In remembering how many times He has come through, you’ll be encouraged that this situation will inevitably be enveloped by His goodness. It doesn’t matter how hard the door closed, how alone you feel in the room, or how long the timer is ticking, this season will pass. God will step in. You will be stronger because of it. You might get a raisin out of it. So get to clapping. You’ve got plenty to celebrate today!