My Story of God’s Goodness in My Life

Lesson Four of Four- JOY in Sadness

First, Seek Him!

When hard days come, JOY can go. Yet, God’s Word says that His JOY gives strength. How can you shift your perspective about JOY during days of sadness and sorrow? Seek the Lord about simple ways you can have more JOY in your story.

Then, Speak Him!

Speak Him: As you learn to return to JOY, speak that truth into the lives of those entrusted to you. Tell them a Jesus story from your life – maybe one that’s happening right now! – about how the JOY of the Lord has become your strength.

*** Lesson and verse images to print, download and share are available at the end of this lesson.***

Word

What Does The Bible Say?

This Week’s Memory Verse:  

Nehemiah 8:10b – “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (NIV)

This Week’s Verse for Preschool Families:  Nehemiah 8:10b – “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Whispers

What Truth is God Speaking to Us?

“I know what’s happening in your life right now. This day of your life is holy to Me, so let My JOY be your strength in good times and hard times.” ~ God

Wisdom

What Truth is God Speaking to Us Through His Word?

God, I know You give JOY, but when I’m sad, it’s hard for me to feel JOYful. Please show me how to experience Your JOY when life is difficult. Amen!

Welcome

What Can We Learn About This Truth?

JOY is gladness in our hearts because of God’s goodness in our lives. No matter what we are going through, we can choose a JOY Story by focusing on the Lord and being strengthened by His goodness every day.

Weavings

What Else Does the Bible Say About This?

It’s one thing to talk about JOY when life is great, but it’s another thing to talk about JOY when life is hard. Some days it seems impossible to feel anything but sadness. What should we do then?

The Old Testament tells the story of Nehemiah, when the people of Israel returned from captivity in Babylon. They were rebuilding their lives in Jerusalem, but it was very hard and discouraging. They were so sad! Nehemiah read them God’s Word, then he encouraged them,“Go and eat choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). The story goes on to say the people did as Nehemiah told them (Nehemiah 8:12).

What does good food and sweet drinks have to do with JOY? Sometimes, when we’re sad, we need to do something tangible (or, touchable) to get us back to JOY. This was true in Bible times and for us now. Just because we are sad doesn’t mean we can’t be JOYful. Sadness and JOY can be present in our lives at the same time.

God promises that He will replace ashes with beauty, mourning with joy, sadness with praise (Isaiah 61:3). If we truly believe this, we will strengthen our hearts with the JOY He has for us today. This may be as simple as a good meal with our family and friends, just like in Nehemiah’s day. It may be as simple as watching the sunset, rolling in the grass or enjoying some beautiful flowers. There are many simple JOYs God invites us to enjoy, in order for us to have strength in hard times.

Life may have difficult days, but through it all, our strength comes from God: “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Amen!

Walking

How Can We Live Out This Truth?

We seldom control sadness like sickness, loss and death, but we can choose the JOY of the Lord even during these times. We can get out our “64-count box of JOYs” and color our stories with remembering the good things God has done. This is a choice, to focus on God’s goodness rather than life’s badness. Sometimes a tangible activity like coloring with crayons can help us choose a different perspective.

Sometimes our lack of JOY is because we encountered thieves of JOY, things like anger, jealousy, resentment, fear, comparison, bitterness, selfishness and hate. These will erase JOY out of our stories every single time. We may not even realize they’re present until our JOY is gone. In this, too, we can choose JOY. One crayon at a time, we can say, “I choose JOY, not you, anger.” “I choose JOY, not you, jealousy.” And so on.

There are many ways to think about choosing JOY. In a JOY Story, we strengthen our JOY muscles every day. We get “unstuck” from sadness by exercising returning to JOY after every unpleasant emotion. We “climb JOY mountain” or “go back to camp JOY.” Whatever way is easiest for you to remember choosing JOY in your story, let that be your reminder about finding JOY in the midst of sadness!

Wonders

What Questions Do We Have About This?

Can we be sad and joyful at the same time?
How does God’s JOY give us strength?
What did Nehemiah tell the people to do?
What are some tangible things you can do to return to JOY when you are sad?
Are you sad today? Why? Let’s talk about this…
Do you think you have any thieves of JOY in your heart right now?

Questions for Preschool Families:
What does God promise us when we follow Him?
Does God want us to stay sad?
What gift does He have for us even in our hard times?
How can you strengthen your JOY muscles today?
How can you color JOY in your story right now?

Worship

How Shall We Respond To The Lord In This Truth?

Worship through Prayer Lord God, You know our hearts and our sadness. You feel our pain, and You give us JOY to carry us through it. Help us lean into You for our story, every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name, amen!

Worship through Praise:
The Joy of the Lord – by Bethel Music with Kristene DiMarco –

Joy of the Lord – by Rend Collective

A Family Blessing

A Blessing to speak over your children…

“If one day doesn’t have sorrow, the next just might. Through it all, I pray that you will be a person filled the Lord’s JOY every day of your life. In Jesus’ Name, amen!”

“If one day doesn’t have sorrow, the next just might. Through it all, I pray that you will be a person filled the Lord’s JOY every day of your life. In Jesus’ Name, amen!”

(For your convenience, we are providing a PDF download version of the lesson.  This will save to your downloads on your device, or your folder of choice on your computer.)

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