LifePoint Partner, small group leader and Christian inspirational speaker, Carmen Espada shares lessons from her heart at the feet of Jesus.

“Grab a cup of  coffee and join me as we lay down our burdens, troubles and worries at Jesus’ feet and embrace peace in his presence.”

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” ~~ Matthew 11:28

Do you know the difference between Joy and happiness?

Recently, I had a revelation that both of these emotions are truly very different in our Christian life.

This past year was a very hard year for me, as it was a hard year for all of us. But God was there with us to strengthen us along the way.

The Bible says God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He is with us and he will guide us through our trials until we learn what he wants to teach us for our own happiness and for our own peace! Every trial or circumstance has a purpose in our lives.

I remember a time in my life when I would wake up every morning asking Jesus to give me happiness. I just wanted to feel happy. I would pray, “Lord, can I please just wake up one day feeling joy in my heart-Just for today Lord.” I just wanted to feel a joy filled peace in the midst of my uncertainty, doubt, and confusion.

I would like to tell you that, as I prayed through my situation every day to be happy and to feel Joy in the midst of all the uncertainty, it did not seem like my prayers were being answered. God had another plan. He was teaching me something!

Although I was in the word of God regularly, it took me a while to learn how to listen. It took me awhile to learn the difference between happiness, joy and surrender. I had to go through this season of uncertainty before I realized what God was trying to tell me all along. He was telling me that the happiness I wanted was just a feeling; it was not true happiness. Of course, God wants us to be happy, He wants his children to be joyful, but God wants us to experience real Joy even in our circumstances, and that Joy can only come through and from him. That is why Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He wants us to humble ourselves and to lay our burdens at his feet so we can experience HIS Joy!

As I experienced God speaking to me through his word this year, and as time went by, I came to realize that if I wanted things to change; I had to make a decision. I had to give up MY control and recognize God was the Captain of the ship, not me.

It was not until I went on my knees in prayer, with all the strength I had left in me, that I truly surrendered everything to Him. I had done this before, but this time it was different. I humbled myself and asked Jesus, with no doubt or hesitation, to take away all the hurt, all the pain and all the fears. With all my heart, I gave God control of my circumstances, and I gave him the Captain’s hat, trusting in him for the outcome.

It was then that God gave me the freedom not to worry about the uncertainty I was experiencing. Every day started looking brighter. There was a special hope that I was experiencing and more than before, I felt the Joy and peace God wants for us. I felt the pressure easing, and I felt my burdens slowly lifting. I am learning to trust God and to lay my burdens at his feet.

I began to experience more and more of his peace, even in the middle of my fears and struggles. I began to see changes in my life as I continued to let God steer the boat. God has since answered many of my prayers and has given me freedom in many areas of my life, and for those prayers that he is still working on – I just left those at his feet.

I finally started experiencing a special kind of joy, not necessarily the happiness I was asking for, or even the happiness that I thought I wanted, but the joy that only the Lord gives. I started experiencing a peace which brought on a different kind of happiness, a true contentment in my overall trial.

It was not until I gave God full control of my situation and full control of my life, knowing that no matter what happened, I would trust him, that my freedom began.

It is still a work in progress. When I feel the need to put on the Captain’s hat, I catch myself, and immediately take those burdens, leaving them at his feet. I am learning to trust and rest in Jesus! He guides my path.

I didn’t know what Jesus was trying to tell me all these months. I couldn’t always understand what he was doing. It wasn’t until I paid close attention to his words and wisdom in Scripture, and it wasn’t until I saw what he was trying to tell me, that I understood. All along, he was teaching me to trust him, to listen to his voice and no other voice. All along God was teaching me to give my burdens to him and to let them go. I think I finally understand.

I now realize that it is not until I fully surrender to God and put everything at his feet with humility, that I can experience real Joy and real freedom through my circumstances.

Your trials may still be there for a little longer. But the difference is knowing that God has them covered, that God is with you. Put all your trust in him. Surrender your will and you will experience his Joy in the midst of your trials. No matter what happens, he is there. God is in control and he loves you! He gives you peace in the midst of the storm—when you lay your uncertainty, your burdens, and your trials, at his feet!

What is the difference between joy and Happiness? The word of God says that true joy comes from him. The joy of the Lord gives us peace, strengthens and fills us with power by the Holy Spirit, anything else is just a feeling.

Feelings come and go, but Jesus says that his joy and his strength is sufficient.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength ,” ~~ Nehemiah 8:10

Point to Ponder: Don’t allow your situation or circumstances to dictate your happiness because your Joy comes from the Lord. He can fill every void and every situation in your life if you just lay it all at the feet of Jesus !

What do you need to surrender and leave at Jesus’ feet Today?

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, thank you that we can humbly come before you in full surrender, laying our uncertainties, trials and burdens at your feet. Thank you for your peace. Amen.”

-Carmen Espada