Oh June, where did you go? This month has been full as we discussed finding joy, even in the midst of the least joyful situations you could imagine.
We are all struggling with something. Some of us deal with more struggles, but every one of us will wade into a time of murky, sticky sorrow and trials. And when that time comes, we're supposed to be filled with joy?
When Anna Bauereis lost her son, she was not immediately praising God and expressing her joy in the midst of her pain. She was devastated. She questioned God and His motives. She spent months wandering around, wondering what life meant for her. Diane and her amazing daughter Annie have spent a long three and a half years waiting for a miracle to come for Annie's pain. They have an army of friends, family, and even strangers rallying around them and lifting up Annie's journey daily in prayer. All that support does not mean they have a constant source of joy with them, sustaining them since Day 1.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing." - James 1:2-4
Joy - real joy - is an expression of patience. Joy can be your answer to life's hardships and heartaches. It can be your defiant stand against anything and anyone seeking to tear a rift between you and the blissful life of obedience in God's plan for your life. It can be your shield to repel the waves of depression, anxiety, and overall doom that the Enemy wants all of God's children to drown in.
There will be times when you simply can't find the joy in your life. And that's OK. You are human and you are in pain. The important step during a time like this is to have reminders of God's love and protection planted somewhere in your mind and heart, ready to be recalled in your time of joylessness. Maybe it's a verse. Maybe it's a worship song. Maybe it's time spent in prayer and open-heart talks with a trusted friend or family member. Maybe it's simply sitting in a quiet room and talking to God.
Joy is an act of surrendered worship of your Father. "Yes, what I'm going through is horrible and hurts and seems like it will never end. But Lord, Your love will be here long after the pain is gone. So I will choose joy in hopeful trusting that You will see me through this and are using my broken heart for Your plan."
How incredible would it feel to be in a place as secure as that prayer? Good news: you can be. You have everything in you to be that strong. God wants you to be confident in the promise of constant joy through Him. He places the hard times in our lives to show us that 1) we need Him, and 2) our momentary pain will guide us into an even more fulfilling place in our lives, a place we couldn't have seen without passing through these fires.
The next time you feel the darkness coming, pull out your lantern of joy and shine it bright. The light may not be blinding and you may need to keep adding fuel to it to endure the night, but that joyful light will keep you company and will guide you into a new and amazing day.
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