In the last month, my family has experienced the deaths of four people close to us. It has been difficult to say the least. My heart has felt heavy. I have fought tears and dug for strength and understanding. I didn't question God's goodness in this situation. He is still God and still good despite my circumstance. But I did wonder why. Three of the four were under 21 years of age.
One of these friends lost his joy. It pains my heart that he forgot the hope and power that comes from being a child of God. Is it difficult for you to understand joy that comes from an unknown, unseen God? Let's see if I can explain. Remember the last time you were truly, completely happy? Were you with a loved one? Did that feeling last past the moment? Now imagine that feeling rooted at the very heart of you. Multiply it times ten and imagine that it doesn't go away. It stays on the bad days and in difficult times. It reassures you when you cry or are angry or hurt.
The only way this kind of deep rest and contentment sticks is with a relationship with Jesus Christ. He doesn't abandon you when you are less than pleasant. He doesn't give up on you when you continue to fall to your addiction. He doesn't shy away from your tears and anger. You may not feel happy, but you feel loved and content and with that comes joy that doesn't go away.
When these people passed away, I felt heavy, confused, sad, and closed off. I forgot the joy promised to me in Christ. But this week, the Lord has reminded me in so many sweet ways. I am learning to daily thank Him for the blessings, especially the smallest ones like making it through a particularly difficult work out or receiving a letter from a friend. When I remember the smallest blessings, when I remember how big my God is and that He already knew about these deaths, I remember who I am in Him and I have joy. I choose to look to the only One who can bring me that sense of peace and contentment and happiness.
"But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You." Psalm 5:11
"But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation." Psalm 13:5
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." Psalm 28:7
"For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
"You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy." Psalm 30:11
"In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name." Psalm 33:21
"Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in Him; let all the upright in heart praise Him!" Psalm 64:10
All these verses point to the Lord being our joy. If we look to our circumstances for joy that surpasses the moment, no wonder we lose hope! We began another war this week. People are dying. The economy still suffers.
Jesus Christ is still God. He is still in control. He knows the cry of our hearts. He loves us so much He died for us. No other God could or would do that. The Bible says to take heart because the Lord has overcome the world. Joy comes in the morning. (Check out my last post on joy HERE if you want to read more. It is the most read post on my blog.) I pray that you look to Jesus Christ to find limitless joy. When we focus on Him, there is joy even in the midst of hardship because we are rejoicing in the One who already overcame our suffering!
HE IS THE I AM OF JOY!