for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6, NIV
A lot of depression and discouragement can be traced to self-pity and self-focus. I really believe that the prescription for misery is to pursue happiness. If you set out to make yourself happy, you will be miserable. Happiness is an elusive target. It is always just out of our reach.
Joy does not come from making yourself happy but from making other people happy. Joy overtakes you while you are busy at something else – focusing on others. Joy is a by-product of serving others, not focusing on self.
How could Jesus face the agony of the cross? He knew He was doing it for others. The night before the crucifixion, Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
Dr. Karl Menninger, famous psychologist and author, was once asked what a person should do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on. Everyone expected him to say, take a vacation to Tahiti, change your job, or go to therapy. But Dr. Menninger said, “If I felt a nervous breakdown coming on, I would leave my house and find someone who was in need and do whatever I could to help that person.”
Do you really want to overcome your discouragement? Find someone who could use help and give yourself sacrificially to them. Visit someone in a nursing home. Mow the grass for someone who is unable to. Baby-sit for a young couple who cannot afford it. Take dessert to someone who is lonely.
I am tempted to say, “I have so many troubles of my own that I cannot help anyone else.” But the way to experience true joy is to forget about yourself and focus on someone who needs your help. That is when you will be overtaken with joy.
QUESTION: What can you do on a regular basis for someone else? What step will you take this week to serve others?