They say there’s this scarlet thread running through Scripture, from start to finish: if you look closely, you see Christ everywhere. There are whispers of His coming in the garden in Genesis, holy foreshadowing in the Tabernacle and the Temple, unexpected prognostications, signs and omens around every corner, like thousands of tiny strands that come together into a scarlet cord, wrapped right around the Truth of Christ as He comes, lives, dies and lives again.

What I didn’t realize is that there are so many more threads, more threads in the tapestry, perhaps, and one of them, to me, is pink and yellow, and polka-dotted with sunshine. These are the threads that foreshadow the beautiful joy, the hope, the life abundant, purchased and available to those who find that scarlet thread, and the God-Man whose blood made it red.

It’s beautiful to think about. Easy to weave words together while pondering that gloriously beautiful picture being woven by our infinitely Wise Creator.

But then Monday happens. Or fill in the blank. This time it was a Friday.

You think lofty thoughts about good cheer and faith and contentment, and then you have to get out of bed. And stuff happens. And you think: remind me again how to be of good cheer?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been chewing on the words of Jesus. Words He spoke throughout His last message to His disciples. Specifically, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

Last week, the revelation was that good cheer is a choice. We have to resolve. To make choices when the “JoyStealer” comes to steal. And suddenly it became apparent that there’s this war going on and we’re going to have to choose to fight.

And the fight? Gosh it showed up like two hours after that JoyStealer email found its way to your inbox, friends! For real.

That bright and sunny Friday homeschool morning, it seemed like peace was impossible. Truly. It was just impossible. Four kids going in four different directions and none of them interested in showing a shred of compassion to another. Anarchy, I tell you! And all the cajoling and prodding and pleasing and trying just didn’t seem to be changing one. darn. thing.

So I did what any self-respecting Mama who is about to explode would do: I walked right out the back door.

Before you get worried, know that Hero Hubs was down the hall and no children were endangered as a result of this decision.

I walked outside in tears. Just frustrated, more than anything else, about my limited self. My limited grace. My limited patience. My limited humanity. Like life would be more convenient if I were a pre-programmed happy fairy robot. I stood in the shade of a dogwood tree and just cried it out for a moment or twelve. I ended up on my knees, staring at the grass with eyes blurred, watching tiny flowers twitch and jitter in the brisk April wind.

I faintly remembered those words from Isaiah: All flesh is grass… the grass withers, the flower fades…

And I just turned to Jesus. On the outside I didn’t go anywhere, but on the inside, there was a shift in focus.

I did my best to just be honest. Lord, what a mess I am. I’m sorry I keep falling short. I’m sorry I keep failing. I’m sorry I allow choices I have no control over to make my choices for me sometimes.

And I felt like there was this whisper there, or maybe this slow realization: I am not in control of anything but my own heart. I cannot change my children’s actions (although I certainly intend to continue to do my best to lead them and guide them). I cannot change the weather. I cannot even change the color of those pesky gray hairs showing up here and there. Without professional assistance. In all the universe, God only chose for us to have complete and unlimited dominion over one thing: our own hearts.

Suddenly I thought: Gosh, I really only have one thing to be in control of. Which kind of makes the task seem easier.

When the kids are wild or the sickness knocks on the door or the laundry is a mountain or the bedbugs bite — whatever the circumstance, it is an opportunity for me to exercise authority over my own soul, to choose what I am going to believe and how I am going to respond.

I walked back into the house reminded that I am the fading flower and the withering grass–but I can choose to cling to the God who is forever, and who can see me through anything.

When Monday hit and I had to decide if I was going to fight, and just being sick was getting me down, and the to-do list seemed heavy. I decided to fight back one simple way this week, and it has had significant results. This is the one thing I have to offer so far. Read to take notes on this?

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. 

I’m only scratching the surface of it, but here is what I know. There is this deeper place that you often hear of people finding when they’re trapped in concentration camps or confined in some tragic circumstance or another: there’s this place they can travel to without leaving their cell, where in their heart, they are shifting their posture. Perhaps they’re standing on Earth but in their hearts they’re kneeling. And while their physical eyes might be looking at a captor, the eyes of their souls are looking at Jesus.

More than once this week, I wanted to look at my circumstances and say “Really. Really?” Sometimes in a frustrated “Did that really just happen?” kind of way, and other times in a “Alright, life, what else do you wanna throw at me?”

But the moment I chose to turn the eyes of my soul toward Jesus, I felt the hope that reminded me that I can Be of Good Cheer, deep down in my soul, even when things aren’t looking how I wish they would on the surface.

I hunted down those words again, about the withering grass and fading flowers? And here are just a few of the things God met me with in Isaiah 40:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together…

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows up on it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever…

He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength…

Those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

In His glorious goodness, crooked places are made straight and rough places are made smooth. Maybe not exactly the way we want. And probably not nearly as quickly as our impatient souls would like. But Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, friends: and He can give you the perspective of His glorious awe-inspiring eternal goodness. And once you see it from that perspective it seems so simple to say,

“Here’s my heart, Lord. This one thing I have control over? Take that, too. Lead this heart of mine and show me how to walk in your ways. Even though I don’t like what’s happening right now, oh, Lord, I look at you and know: it is well.”

Be of Good Cheer friends… keep turning your eyes to the One place where you can truly find it.