Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Maggie Castonguay! If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today for FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!
Now, enjoy today’s post from Maggie 🙂
As a sprinter on the track team, I dreaded hearing those words. Long-distance running is not my strong suit, which meant I dreaded hill repeats. Up and down the steep hill for the 4th time, 5th time, 6th time – I was exhausted, worn out, and cranky. I thought, “I am a sprinter – is this even necessary? I am practicing by slowly running up a hill and I am supposed to run fast on a track. This workout doesn’t make any sense in how this will help me. Wouldn’t it be better if I went to the track and just ran 100 meters?”
This mindset caused me to focus solely on the pain shooting through my legs, the tightness of my chest, my difficulty breathing, the feeling of being sick, and the urge to quit right then and there. I began to run up the hill slower, stop at the top longer, and not push myself as hard. I began to give up. “I don’t run long distances anyway. I don’t need this workout.” I failed to recognize the purpose of this workout. It was meant to prepare me to run my race better and faster. I was building endurance to reach my potential and see the results I wanted at the end of the race. I needed this, but I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I was forced to do something hard. I didn’t want this workout, I didn’t ask for it – which caused me to believe that I didn’t need it and I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t want hard – I wanted easy.
I didn’t want to be pushed out of my comfort zone – I wanted what was known and familiar to me.
I didn’t want to feel pain – sickness – and difficulty breathing – I wanted to feel good and comfortable.
I started to believe these lies because I wasn’t focused on the end goal – which was the race set before me in the future meet. I saw my circumstance for what it was in the moment- doubt in my ability to continue through something extremely hard physically and mentally. Had I focused on the future race, I would have looked at this strenuous workout differently.
How often are you faced with a trial that causes you to say, “I don’t see a purpose for this.”
How often are you in a season of suffering where you say, “I didn’t ask for this.”
How often does it seem like you are all alone in your temptation which makes you say, “I can’t do this any longer.”
Friend, these are all lies from the enemy. We have allowed the enemy to penetrate our minds with lies and shift our focus off our end goal – eternal life with our Father in Heaven. He has shifted our focus from hope in the everlasting to doubt, fear, complacency, and pain in the temporary.
James 1:2 says this, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (NIV) This verse does not say if you face trials, it says when you face trials. We will face trials, suffering, and temptations during our lives here on earth.
James wrote in his letter that we should “consider it pure joy” when we face trials. This is because our joy is not dependent on our situation. As Christians, we have hope in the salvation of Jesus Christ. This allows us to have joy amid our suffering. No matter our current situation we can have joy, peace, hope, and comfort. This life is but a blur compared to the life we have ahead of us in heaven. This life is temporary – which means our suffering is temporary as well.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says this, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NIV)
Jesus knows how we feel. He, too, went through trials, suffering, and temptations while He was on earth. Think about the power behind this statement – Jesus endured the cross for YOU.
He could endure the pain, shame, humiliation, and death that came with being crucified on the cross because He was focused on the end goal. He was focused on the joy set before Him.
What if He didn’t?
What if He did what I was so tempted to do – and did do – during my track workout? He began to feel pain and said “I didn’t want this. I didn’t ask for this. I can’t do this. I don’t need this.”
He would be right.
He didn’t ask to be crucified on the cross. Guess what, He doesn’t even need us. So why did He endure the cross? Because He wants us. He chose us. The joy of heaven that set before Him allowed Him to endure the sufferings He went through.
James 1:12 says this, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (NIV) Friend, the joy that set before Jesus – it sets before you too.
This is why endurance is so important. This is why it is so important to not give up and to not grow weary in our sufferings here on earth. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can endure the trials and tribulations that come with living in a fallen world. Navigating trials and temptations without God’s help will leave us broken and weary. Remember to seek God’s help and guidance to resist and endure the trials and temptations before us.
Romans 5:3-4 says this, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (NIV) God can use your sufferings and He will not waste it. Pray and ask God to reveal how you can glorify Him amid suffering. By doing so, you will be able to endure it and you will grow stronger because of it.
We can rejoice in God’s glory and our temporary suffering because we know that suffering goes on to produce endurance for the race He has set before us. The lane in which we run the race that God set before us is unique. However, the race given to each Christian is the same – to spread the gospel to the whole world. We cannot do this without relying on God’s strength and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I needed the endurance to be able to run the race set before me in track – and this took hard work, discipline, and dedication. How much more should we work hard and be disciplined in our walk with the Lord? When trials and suffering come, what is already inside of you will be what shines through you in difficult times.
Our current suffering will never compare to the hope that is to come. It is hard while you are in the midst of it and I am not discrediting that at all. This life is hard. There will be times when we don’t understand what’s going on in our lives and the lives of others. But friend, the reward of endurance is great. We cannot even comprehend the joy that sets before us. Revelation 21:4 says this, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV) When you are amid trials, sufferings, and pain, just know that there will be a day when you are standing in front of the Father in heaven and He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” He will wipe away your tears and at that moment it will all be worth it. We just have to keep going. We got this. Don’t give up and don’t grow weary. You got this and you are not alone. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV)
Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Maggie Castonguay! We are so encouraged by the message she offers today. If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!
Now, enjoy today’s post from Maggie 🙂
“How do you find joy in every moment?”
Someone once asked me this question and to be honest, at the time I didn’t know how to answer it. This world is filled with heartache, tragedy, and grief. How do you find joy in every moment, living in a world like this?
While I was writing this blog post, I realized that I haven’t looked up the definition of joy. When I googled it, I found the biblical definition and it put everything into perspective.
“The biblical definition of joy says that joy is a feeling of good pleasure and happiness that is dependent on who Jesus is rather than on who we are or what is happening around us. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, abiding in God’s presence and from hope in His word.” 1
Whoa. That’s good!
For a long time, my joy depended on my situation. If I played a great game, I would be happy. If I had good grades, I would be happy. If my friends and I were getting along, I would be happy. But if any of these things weren’t going how I’d like them to, I wasn’t happy. In fact, it felt like my world was falling apart.
The reason it felt like my world was falling apart was because my joy had been found in the things of the world. I couldn’t find joy in every moment because I valued the things that were in the moment more than Who was leading me in the moment.
I am sure that most of us have heard the famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And this is so true about our life here on Earth. As Christians, this world and this life is not our destination. Heaven is our destination, but life on Earth is our journey to get there. There will be ups and downs, happiness and heartache, but through it all we can have joy and peace knowing where we are going.
“And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:5-6) NLT
Ever since I started to put God above the things in my life, I began to find true happiness. Of course, I still have days where I am upset and don’t feel the happiest. I’m human, and that is part of living in a fallen world. But it is in these moments of frustration and sadness that I feel God’s presence the most. God can turn any moment of sadness and hurt into a moment of joy and praise.
This is because God is joy. When you draw near to God, you will experience love, joy, peace, and understanding far beyond what we can imagine. You can draw near to God by spending time with Him. You can do this by reading the Bible, singing worship songs, or writing in a prayer journal. However you choose to, having alone time with God is crucial when trying to get closer to Him and finding the true joy that can only come from Him.
When I was in high school, I was on a number of different athletic teams. I loved to compete and I loved the adrenaline rush that came with playing sports. To me, being a Christian feels the same way. The closer I draw near to God, the more on fire I get for Him. I want to spread the Gospel, and tell everyone about Him! However, unlike an athletic team, we know that every time we step onto the court our team is going to win. God has defeated death, sadness, sickness, and pain, and we get to be on His team!
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4) NLT
True joy does not fluctuate with your circumstance. True joy comes from knowing Who is in control and Who has already won the war against sin and death. This alone gives me joy, hope, and peace. It motivates me to live my life in a way that glorifies God in every moment. And when you choose to glorify God in every moment, good or bad, His strength and joy will fill you immensely.
“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!” (Psalms 96:11) NLT
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find happiness here on Earth. God has blessed us with relationships and a world to explore His creation. But we will not find true joy when we start to depend on these things as our source of happiness. There will be moments in your life that are filled with heartache and sadness. In fact, even Jesus’s life on Earth was filled with these emotions. He felt our pain and endured the cross for US! We have joy because of who Jesus is and because He saved us.
So, how do you find joy in every moment?
We can find true joy in every moment because we know Who stands with us in every moment.
We can find true joy in every moment because we know Who saved us.
We can find true joy in every moment not because of who we are, but because of who Jesus is.
This joy is not dependent on your current situation. There is nothing that you, or anyone else, can do or say that will change this joy. This joy will last forever.
My prayer for you, friend, is that you will draw closer to God today and that you will find His peace, love, hope, joy, and understanding that can only come from Him. Just know that God knows about whatever circumstance you are going through right now, and He is right there fighting alongside you. God is the source of true joy.
Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO sister member, Maggie Castonguay! We are so encouraged by these 5 pieces of advice she’d give her younger self. If you want to be a part of this incredible community, you can join today and your your first week FREE! Find out more about this online sisterhood HERE. And for more info about what LO sister is all about, visit our Instagram Page!
Now, enjoy today’s post from Maggie 🙂
1. Do not compare yourself to others – you are who God made you to be!
In high school, one of my biggest struggles was comparison. I would think, “she is much prettier than I am, I wish I had her style, her Instagram looks so much better than mine, why can’t my hair be as gorgeous as hers?” The truth is, we have all struggled with comparison at some point. Maybe even subconsciously. The dangerous part about this is we are not seeing ourselves, or others, through God’s eyes. We are tearing ourselves down by thinking we are less than others, and we are tearing others down to make ourselves feel that we are more. However, God sees the beauty in all of us. He has given us all different gifts. One passage that changed my whole viewpoint was 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. I encourage you all to read it now, but I will provide a brief summary. It talks about how our bodies have so many different parts, but they all serve an important purpose. If our foot wished to be a hand, how would we walk? If our ear wished to be an eye, how would we hear? The same goes for the gifts that God has given us. If we were all teachers, who would respond to fires or accidents? If we were all doctors, who would build houses? God has given each of us a unique gift and has created us in His image. This makes us beautiful in His eyes. That in itself should be enough to tell us that we are perfect just the way God made us.
2. Work as hard as you can – not for your own glory but for God’s glory!
School is a lot of work. Whether you are in middle school, high school, or college, there is always a lot of work to be done. We have to work hard for good grades, to earn a spot on the sports team, to have our article published in the school newspaper, or to create good content for the yearbook. There are so many things to work hard for. However, sometimes I would forget to work hard for God’s glory. I would be so quick to take all the credit when I would do something well, but so quick to blame God when something didn’t go the way I wanted. I would say, “But God, I prayed and prayed for you to help me achieve this goal. And you didn’t.” But friends, what I have come to realize is that our agenda may not align with God’s agenda. God will always answer our prayers, but sometimes it is not the answer that we had expected. We also cannot pray to get an A on the test, but then study as if we were going to get a C. Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”(NLT) Whatever we are doing, we need to work hard for God’s glory and not our own.
3. Be patient and loving towards those who frustrate you!
You will encounter a lot of people in your life that you may not agree with. Sometimes it is so hard to see them through God’s eyes. However, they are a child of God, just like you and me. They are just as deserving of our love as our best friend is. Gossiping is a HUGE problem during our teenage years. It can really get people down. Gossiping can spread lies and private information about people. When we find ourselves feeling negative towards others, it is so easy to end up talking bad about them. However, this is not what God wants us to do. The bible says to “bless those who persecute you. Do not curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Romans 12:14 NLT) This is hard! But friends, we need to pray that God would help us see through His eyes and be patient and loving towards that person.
4. Do not live for the world’s approval – be bold in your faith! Way too often, I found myself trying to receive the approval of my peers. It is so easy to get caught up in what is “cool” and “trendy” that it causes you to drift away from God’s word. Unfortunately, going to church and being bold about your faith is not considered to be cool or trendy. So I kept quiet about my faith for a long time, scared that my peers would look at me differently. But friends! Your faith is nothing to be ashamed of! I have been able to grasp that the more I read my bible and really strive to live my life for God. It is SO exciting to see someone else’s eyes light up when you introduce the love of God into their lives. You guys, we are not living to please or to be approved by this world. We are living to please and to be approved by God. Our mission as Christians is to spread the good news about Jesus and make heaven crowded! If all Christians were silent about their faith, fearing that they will not be liked by this world, how would anyone else come to know and love God? Instead, imagine what would happen if every Christian was bold in their faith – heaven would be full!
5. Don’t get so distracted by everyday life that you forget to LIVE your life!
High school was probably the busiest time of my life so far. I had extracurricular activities, athletics, academics, and other personal life events that made my everyday life fly by. I would leave for school at 7:15 AM, and I would usually get home around 7 PM, sometimes later. I got so caught up in the stressfulness of my everyday life; that I sometimes forgot to stop and take it all in. To appreciate what God had given me. I noticed this when my senior year suddenly stopped because of COVID. No graduation, no prom, no senior track season, no more walking through the halls of my high school. At that moment, I wished that I hadn’t taken advantage of the everyday life that I was so blessed with. Every day God wakes us up and blesses us with a new day. We need to live each day as if we aren’t going to get another one. (I learned this from Sadie’s book LIVE, by the way)
Now, I wish I could say that I have conquered these 5 struggles, but the truth is I haven’t. I still fall and mess up each day of my life. But the biggest piece of advice that I want to give you is this – don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Go after that big dream of yours and conquer it head-on. Because girl, you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!