We asked you to send us your questions about joy. And many of you did. Thomas addressed some in his sermon, but let’s continue the conversation here.

How do you help your children choose joy?

(By Jessica Thompson)

For me, JOY starts with me. It’s a choice I can make in every situation. And if I’m joy filled on my own, hopefully my kids see that in me. Especially if they see my joy, even when they are not choosing joy. For example, our oldest son was outside with me shoveling snow today. I was choosing joy in the situation and enjoying the hard work and blessing our neighbors by shoveling their snow. He on the other hand was not. It was obvious by his words and attitude. He even said to me, “It’s crazy that I know more about life than you do and I’m only 16.” Awesome. I could let his smart aleck response ruin my joy, or I could choose joy in spite of it.

One way to encourage joy in your kids is when they say something like my child said to me, or they choose the opposite of joy in a situation by the words they are saying, I will ask the question, “Who told you that?” Who told you this isn’t fun? Who told you you aren’t good at ______? Who told you…..? Usually it’s something they themselves have decided to believe. What if I told you the opposite? How would that change your viewpoint? The goal is to help them see that the choice is theirs!

How do you have joy when someone you love has walked away from God?

(By Thomas Thompson)

This is such a hard situation. When someone we love, like a child, has wandered from the faith> IT is an ongoing battle to find joy in that.

John wrote: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4. John was talking about his spiritual children, but that definitely includes the kids we raise to walk with God. And if knowing his kids are walking with God is his greatest joy, how hurtful is it when they are not walking in the truth?

One thing I have always held on to is this: We don’t know the end of someone’s road. I see this in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. You know the tale from Luke 15, where the young man decides he has had enough of the truth of his father’s house, and wanders out into the world to make his own way. The road leads him to heartache and brokenness, feeding pigs in their pens.
If you asked his family during this time, I am sure they were devastated. Worrying. Watching out. Praying.
And yet there was a day when the son came to his senses and returned home.

Here is the deal: We never know how long it might take for the prodigal to return. And we never know how much of a pigpen they might get into. But God is the Father with the long view. The arms open wide. Waiting at the end of the road.

I hold out hope and prayer for the people I love that have wandered. Not hope that I can change them or rescue them. But hope that one day they come to their senses and see how loving their father’s home was, and they return. And I hold to the Father who welcomes all who have wandered.

So where is the joy? In knowing I am not alone in my waiting. That there is a Father waiting with me for them. And that I have to give up my control and entrust myself—and them—to God.


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