You changed my sorrow into dancing. You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness. Psalm 30:11 NCV

“I can do it myself!”

The battle cry of the four-year-old! It may be trying to tie a pair of shoes, or putting a shirt, or any number of things. When met with that challenge you have basically two options, perhaps three. It depends on the task at hand and if any personal injury is possible.

You could try to talk the ‘expert in life’ through the options and, by so doing, work your way into the solution. Rarely works, but young parents usually try this approach…once.

You could strong arm the situation. Rip the task right out of the hands of the over-confident zealot. It will get the job done better and faster on your part. However the child will be frustrated, angry and, if you strong-arm enough times, will lose the self-confidence to try new things. The result? Fear of failure and the loss of joy that comes from accomplishing something.

A third option is often the best for the child and hardest for the parent. Option three involves standing idly by and watching and waiting to be needed. The key to this option is that you are always there to provide protection when needed, advice when asked and encouragement in the process. You are ready and willing to step in when needed to assist with the completion of the task.

The risk with this option is that the job may indeed be accomplished but not nearly as well as you could have done. It may be completed satisfactorily, but in a much longer time frame. The benefits are that the child will learn his limitations, and also learn that you can be trusted to come to their aid when needed.

Our heavenly Father is an option three kind of guy. Did you notice that the options for dealing with a four year old apply to every age? We all have the ‘four-year-old’ mentality that screams that we can manage life in our own ways, our own power, and our own time.

Frustration, anger and bitterness come in when we realize we can’t do ‘it’ alone. We can’t hold this marriage together one more day. We can’t carry the responsibilities of our co-workers and our own. They need to chip in some energy. We can’t do it by ourselves. We can’t risk our entire lives with this child that seems intent on destroying our family reputation. We simply can’t do it anymore.

When you come to the point in life when you realize you are out of options. When you realize your strength is gone and your resolve to succeed is dwindling, the first thing to leave is your joy.

Life doesn’t hold the same excitement. Your relationships seem to be more of a chore than a blessing. The pastor’s sermons are dry, the church becomes irrelevant, the Christian life seems impossible.

When our joy is taken from us it robs us of our will to go on. That’s when our Heavenly Father steps in. He’ll never intrude without our asking. He’ll never abandon us when we seek him out.

Jesus came to earth to show us the way of joy. He can take the clouds of sadness and replace them with joy if you will let him in.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know the burden I’m bearing right now. You know the frustration and fatigue that are destroying my will to move forward. Thank you that the things I struggle with today can be turned over to you and you will walk me through the challenges of life. I praise your holy name. Amen.