Christine Casten, Director of Intercession with The Warrior Class recently wrote a four-part blog series that highlights the importance and value of “instead of” thinking. “Instead, I Choose Joy” is part 2.
Living life from the INSTEAD opens a completely different approach to everything! I learn to face my situations, step outside of the typical response and look for God’s instead. I train toward identifying what God is doing in my circumstances. I look for the peace of God instead of focusing on chaos around me. I learn to see the possibilities instead of seeing the problem. I focus on how God is healing me instead of licking my wounds. The list goes on! As I step into each of these shifts, I embrace the joy of living sold out to Jesus.
The key to this approach requires a shift in mindset. At first, I lived mired in victim thinking continually asking, “Why do these things always happen to me?” I failed to understand how to look at my situation from God’s perspective and often missed the amazing things He was trying to do in my life.
Graham offers some spiritual tools, or questions, that help me realign with God’s heart. He said, “Instead of asking ‘Why’— we are to ask ‘What are you doing God? And what is my response to be?’” By listening to Living Your Truest Identity, I began to understand God is not out to get me, He is not distant from me, and He is not punishing me. He constantly works through my situations to help me fully become who I am created to be.
When my thoughts shift to how God is working and what He is doing in me, I remove myself from victim thinking and begin to see His majestic hand at work. An amazing transformation comes as I recognize how He uses INSTEAD to call me up into maturity.
Choosing to see life from this perspective does not mean I deny the difficult things in my path. I do have trials, just like everyone. I will face obstacles and battles that have the ability to steal my joy. But, INSTEAD has become a habit in my life and is much more an immediate response. God did not create me to be a victim. He created me to overcome.
He grants me the grace to find the joy in all that comes. James 1:2 even states “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” The way I find “true joy” in my trials is to recognize all God is doing in me, through me and around me. Those trials strengthen me as His ambassador and build my relationship with Him. Each trial brings another opportunity to reach new places of maturity and increase my resiliency.
Joy remains. Joy grows. Joy is a result of INSTEAD thinking. When those challenges come and threaten to overtake, INSTEAD, I choose joy and determine to find God’s majesty in the midst of the circumstance.