Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Christians have joy because they have Jesus living in them, right? The Sunday school answer is, “YES!”. I mean, the children’s song we learned says “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay!”.
I WISH it was that easy! I do not think I am alone is saying that some days that joy is buried so deep in my heart that it is hard to find!
This post was started last fall. When things were great…very joyful.
Since that day, life happened. A lot of life happened and this post was put in the ‘draft’ folder.
The verse and ideas were coming together for this JOY post even while packing up my daughter, son-in-law and my first grandbaby to move five hours North.
I was still filled with joy, even as sad as I was that God was planting them so far from me. Going from seeing my sweet baby doll (granddaughter) every day or so to hopefully monthly visits was life altering to say the least, but the Lord had planted peace and joy as I saw this was all HIS plan for them.
So sure, I was excited to share the joy I was experiencing even in this tough reality.
I had no idea that was just the tip of the iceberg that was about to try to drown me.
After going with them to help move & set up the new, cute little craftsman style house, leaving day came. And so did the tears as I drove out of the driveway!
Within 2 miles, the tears began for an entirely different reason….intense back pain! I had hurt it a few days before, but had been giving it TLC and being careful. My long trek home was not starting off well, at all.
The longer I drove, the more pain. As the intensity of the pain built, so did other very unpleasant issues like tingling, numbness and shooting pains all the way down my leg into my foot & out to the end of my big toe by the time I was half way home. ☹
After weeks of doctor visits, massage, rest and too many medicines and shots to name trying to dull the unbearable pain and numbness all the way down my leg and through my foot, the MRI revealed the herniated disk pressing on nerve roots. BINGO!
Neither strength nor joy would’ve been a word I used to describe myself most days. It has been a tough six weeks and my prayers and thoughts on JOY have been all over the place.
I was in a mess! A painful and debilitating mess! I could only lay flat or stand, no sitting because of the overwhelming pain.
Have you ever been there? In a big, excruciating and painful mess that just goes on, day after day? It could’ve been physical pain, emotional hurt, betrayal, lost job or any number of things.
Were you able to ‘rejoice’ and ‘be joyful in all circumstances’ as the scriptures tell us?
I have discovered through this mess what it means to be strengthened in Joy but it was not without a deliberate, and sometimes hard choice to fight for it!
Joy is a gift given to all of His children, but living in joy is a choice.
When we feel we are being tackled by life and ending up at the bottom of the pile, joy is still there if we choose to look up to The Truth.
I determined to meet with the Lord, not on my comfy couch with my blanket & coffee mug in my usual place, but instead lying flat on my belly in a crippled state. As I laid on the floor, still in pain, God brought a strength and joy I could have not imagined!
It was not in the way I wanted to feel joy for sure! I mean, I wanted God to miraculously heal my issues and give me a great testimony of healing, right!?!
Although, my idea of healing was not the same as the Lord's healing this time! He had a different lesson. A different testimony of His goodness!
You see, at my weakest point, physically and emotionally, I was being strengthened spiritually.
The prayer conversations, the tear-soaked journal, pacing the floor at 3am asking how much longer Lord; all of it taught me the meaning of the follow verses better than any seminary class ever could have:
Not many read verse 12 & 13, but that is the verse that brings verse 11 to fruition 😊
11For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
12 ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
This verse is super special to me. It jumped off the page at me right after I began to really study the Word. It was as if He was letting me know….you keep digging and listening and I am going to show you things that will blow your mind! I will show you MORE & MORE! Oh, my goodness, has He!!
'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
I learned, hands on, what He means to seek Him, search for Him, to call on Him.
But most of all, I found out that He LISTENS and cares. Always revealing more of His nature, His character, His love, His goodness, His faithfulness.
Seriously, the Lord took my feeble efforts of coming to Him, at times with more questions than praise, and grew Joy like a beautiful flower right before my eyes!
Jesus dug up and replanted my Joy! A joy strong enough to grow amidst the pain and the mounting medical bills.
JOY regardless. Joy is not my happy. Joy is my HOPE.
I also learned that in the darkest times are where the glimmers of joy are most beautiful. You begin to see them grow brighter & brighter right before your eyes! It brings a sweetness to the soul that is indescribable.
When we truly experience how Jesus supernaturally transforms joy from our pain, our faith will forever be changed!
Forever Stronger. Forever more Joyful.
FIGHT for your Joy by going into His Presence now. He cares!
P.S. I ask for your continued prayers for wisdom & healing as I continue to deal with this back issue. The debilitating nerve pain was healed! But pain issues & numbness are still daily.....for now! :)