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maxresdefault[1]The current events of the world have left many people feeling our nation is without hope. Disappointment turns our joy into sadness. Fear breeds anger and disgust. How do we remain joyful in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us? Joy is about choosing to respond to life with faith. Hebrews 11 tells us that faith is a conviction of things not seen. Here are four ways to experience hope and peace, which bring joy.

  1. Turn despair into hope. When despair leaves you with a heavy heart, take joy in simple pleasures. Cultivate an everyday awareness of God, and reflect on His goodness. What makes you feel close to Him? Here are some activities that work for me.
  •  Take a long, brisk walk in a nearby park.
  • Stroll a local museum featuring some of your favorite art.
  • Pack a picnic lunch with some of your favorite foods
  • Grab a good devotional book, journal and pen, and head to a tranquil place.
  • Listen to music that speaks to your heart.

Life is full of distractions; destress and declutter your soul. Be intentional. If you work, consider your lunch break as a time to draw near to God. Scripture promises us if we draw near to Him, He draws near to us, and we’ll find fullness of joy in His presence (James 4:8; Psalm 16:11).

2. Turn disappointment into His appointment.

Ask God what He’s saying or teaching you through life’s trials. When my husband was laid off from a well-paying job and when my daughter’s surgery expenses loomed heavily over us, God was busy teaching me not to let my circumstances dictate my future. He’s much bigger than any giants I face. God is able to do more than I expect or imagine when I put my trust in Him (Eph. 3:20; 2 Cor. 4:18).

3. Turn discouragement into encouragement.

Live by truth, not feelings. Guard your mind, heart and words against negativity. We give power to what we agree with. Spend time in God’s Word: read, meditate and journal. Be creative. I have found that coloring while meditating on scripture brings me peace and renews my mind (Prov. 4:23; Lk. 6:45; Rom. 12:2).

4. Turn depression into compassion.

God gave us feelings. How we use our feelings is up to us. We can choose to use them for good or bad. Embracing an attitude of gratitude is critical. Thankfulness flows from recognizing everything we have is a gift from Him. When we are thankful, it’s nearly impossible to entertain negative emotions. Giving thanks births love, compassion and joy. We love because God first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). Let love guide you, and fill you with His compassion.

Turn darkness into light by piercing it with joy. How we live our lives affects those around us. We reap what we sow. What will you choose to sow today? Will it be acts of love and kindness inspired by God? Or acts rooted in fear and evil? You choose. You can live joyful or fearful.