I am so happy it is May! Spring is my favorite season: one of new life and new beginnings. But many people can’t face this season with hope. They wonder how to find real joy again when life circumstances have stolen it.
A Joy Blog Round-up
As I’ve been writing about my journey toward joy, I’ve discovered other writers that are also joy-journeying. For this post, I’ve rounded up some of my new blogging friends, and asked them to tell you about their experiences. They have been finding real joy again even when their life experiences have stolen it. Their stories are real, and their joy is contagious. I pray you will learn from them, and then take a visit to each of their blogs to see what God is up to in their lives.
Choosing Joy in Loss
Hannah writes over at The Young Wives Club. She shares her experience with devastating loss:
I will always remember the look on the doctor’s face when she told us we were experiencing a miscarriage.
Despite her best attempts to deliver the news with compassion, my heart sank. How could the Lord allow this to happen to us? To me? I’m not sure what stung more in that moment. The reality that our little one had not survived or that looming feeling that God had somehow gotten it wrong.
Pain has a way of blinding us to the Lord’s movements. We feel the physical and emotional oppression. We long to hear his voice, but the silence feels so alone. Regardless of how much we pray, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
For a long time, I lived in my pain. It was my identity and, begrudgingly, I allowed it to consume who I was. I didn’t want to continue in this debilitating cycle, but I couldn’t seem to find my way out. I started the believe that the Lord had forgotten me. How could this possibly be his plan for my life? And years of hurting, how could a miscarriage be added into the mix? It hardly seemed fair from my perspective and, the more I believed that I had gotten the short-end of the stick, the less I was able to relish in the joy set before me.
You see, real joy isn’t like happiness or grief. It’s not an emotion that comes and goes with life. Like peace, the joy of the Lord is something we are offered continually. But we have to accept it, choose it, and embrace it despite the tumultuous waters surrounding us.
Just as Psalm 30:5 says, “Pain may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The morning doesn’t necessarily mean we are delivered from our circumstances. Though it would be nice to be instantaneously delivered, the “morning” is the result of us choosing to be joyful regardless of everything else that is going on.
Joy comes in the morning. In that ER, I didn’t believe that joy would ever come, but the Lord was gracious and through that grace, I learned to choose joy over my pain. I found freedom from the oppression and encountered Christ’s strength to carry on.
Joy Again, Even After Infidelity
We learn Esther Hosea’s humble and vulnerable story of joy restored in marriage at His Dearly Loved Daughter:
When I discovered Your Words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s DELIGHT, for I bear Your name, Oh Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Jeremiah 15:16)
My story is pretty simple. I fell in love with and married a man who has suffered most of his life with addiction, rebellion, and pride. I knew little of these struggles when I married him. Despite the monster that hid in the secret depths of his heart and mind, we were always crazy about each other.
Through the nearly 17 years of our marriage he see-sawed back and forth between two personalities: The secret one who went out into the world and did what he wanted; and the one who came home to me. He was able to close the dark monster in a drawer and walk away, forgetting he even existed. He wanted to follow God the rest of the time and we built an ideal life together.
But our God is a God of truth and He does not allow what is hidden to stay that way. Over many painful years He showed me exactly what I was dealing with and I realized that the man I had loved with all my heart had been very unfaithful. It was devastating. Earth shattering! I found myself completely robbed of my joy for a brief season because my eyes could focus on nothing apart from my pain.
I am the daughter of the High King of Heaven, though, and He does not leave His dearly loved daughters alone in their misery. He pursues them with relentless love. Like Jeremiah in the verses above, I devoured the Word of God through those dark months. As I did, I found my joy restored.
The Bible reveals so much about who God is, and what He has done for us. As we read it, we begin to realize His magnitude; to look up in awe at the Mighty One, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! We realize how very small we are, how insignificant in the scope of eternity. And then, we see what He did for us. We see that even though we are nothing (wretched, worthless sinners) this mighty, all-powerful God died in our place! Why? Why would He do that? It’s ridiculous!
He did it because He loves us, and wants to have a relationship with us. Plain and simple. Because we matter to Him. I am so humbled! It causes my heart to sing! It fills me with unspeakable joy! I might often feel unloved here in this world, but the Lord God Almighty loves me! He chose me! I am in awe!
Writing Joy in Pain
Desiree is intent on Making Joy Contagious on her blog. Hear part of her story about seeking joy even in incredible physical pain:
For the last 20 years, I have been praying, seeking and journaling with God through my struggles. It has been an awesome journey seeking Him for my marriage, children, heart, and His strength. It has taught me a myriad of things about myself. Things I wanted to know and things I could do without. I’ve found peace in times of trouble. I have found a breath of fresh air where darkness wanted to creep in.
At times when I felt I couldn’t go another day, prayer and journaling reminded me He (My Lord) is always there. Staying in His word kept me in a daily conversation, where God continuously filled me with His abundant, real joy.
Seeking His joy provided me the comfort when trials seemed like impossible mountains to climb. It provided me peace when my body was ill with cancer or in pain (did I mention years of pain). And it filled me with love when I sought to be loved in the world and by the world (divorce).
In my circumstances I chose Him through prayer and journaling each and every time. I chose to seek His real joy because He has a divine plan for my life and it was the only thing that brought me peace.
I know today that my peace has come because I have sought Him and have allowed Him to comfort me and give me strength regardless of my circumstances. Seeking His Joy has become a daily action of prayer and journaling that has kept me connected to something so much greater than myself. In His presence I have found an inward peace and contentment regardless of the circumstances.
Today, in my blog I share these prayers, because God has asked me to. They were a private part of me but I know now after so many medical trials and struggles that my struggles were intentional and purposeful. They have brought me to this place right here where I can share with others on finding His real joy and living fully in His presence regardless of what life throws at you and not allowing anything to steal what God has designed just for you today.
We are His masterpiece…so begin your journey today by praying, seeking and meeting Him as much as possible with pen and paper through the pain.
Seeing Joy in a Disability
Jerusha shares her vulnerable journey over at Beauty in the Broken. Today we hear about finding joy in a disability:
Living with a disability can sometimes steal your joy. There are uncertainties about your future. There are limitations on your lifestyle. Inconveniences are peppered throughout your days. Add all of these together, and it can often leave you feeling hopeless, helpless and unhappy.
I have felt all of these things. I was diagnosed with an untreatable disease last fall that is slowly stealing my mobility, my energy and my patience. I’ve lost my joy a time or two. I’ve cried a lot of tears from deep within my soul. What happens when a happy-go-lucky person isn’t happy anymore?
There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever be happy again. But then I remembered something that is easy to forget. I remembered I have joy in Jesus. This is not a fleeting joy. This is an everlasting joy. In James 1:2-4 it says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)
My greatest joy comes through suffering. I know it’s hard to understand, in fact, it took me quite some time to realize this myself. How does one find joy in the midst of suffering? The answer is Jesus. I believe that I was gifted with this disability because God’s plan for my life is more important than my plan. It far greater than anything I could have imagined. When I stop and think about this, I find great joy that God has chosen me to show his glory through my disability. God chose me.
There is great joy in knowing that God hand-picked me for a purpose. Even in suffering, we can rejoice. Because we serve a great God who has great plans. And so I rejoice in Him and His goodness. My favourite way to rejoice in Him is to play my favourite worship music and sing along. Sometimes, I don’t feel like singing. But I close my eyes, listen to the words, and something changes. My heart seems lighter. And out of that, springs a joy that overflows. From that spring of joy comes contentment. And just like that, this happy-go-lucky girl is happy again.
How About You?
I’m so thankful to my fellow bloggers today for sharing their struggles and their real joy so vulnerably with you today. Visit each of their blogs for more encouragement. Here are four practical steps that can help you recover stolen joy:
- Choose real joy over pain
- Find God in His Word
- Commune with Him as you pray and journal
- Pour yourself out to Him in worship