Last year, I was contemplating a word for myself for the coming year, that would represent my heart. At first, I was sure that word was to be "Hope;" but when January the first came around, I felt God was telling me to change it to the word "Peace." Sure enough, as the new year started rolling in, I realized why I was compelled to change it to peace. From the get go, I was faced immediately with trials, tests and tribulations. I soon understood that I was going to need God's peace; the peace which passeth all understanding to get me through these tough times. If I could rest in God's peace & know that HE was in control, despite the circumstances, then I wouldn't have to "hope." I could rest in God's perfect peace. Amazingly, my devotional for the month of January, spoke clearly to me that I needed to seek God's peace, and to rest secure in it.
And so, February rolled in, and here we are almost at the end of the second month of the year. The trials and financial hardships are still here with me, however, I am trying to "Let go and Let God" help to have peace in the midst of all these circumstances. Was it a coincidence, that in December of 2012, I blogged about having peace in the midst of chaos? I think not. I believe that God in HIS perfect timing, was preparing me for the challenges that HE knew would be facing me in the coming year.
So where does my title fit into all of this, you might ask? A few weeks ago, I suddenly realized what was missing from my life was "Joy;" and so I began seriously to ask God to give me joy despite my trials and tribulations. No easy task I might add. I am a single woman in her late fifties, have constant, chronic back pain, I am facing major financial hardships, I have other family members who live with me, and the situations in my home have caused it to be a constant state of chaos and stress; duh, it's no wonder I haven't felt joy in quite a while.
First of all, I didn't ask for happiness. To me, happiness is based on internal emotions and feelings that are based on external factors & situations. Happiness comes and goes. It's up and down. It's dependence once again, is based on our emotions and outside factors. It fluctuates like a roller coaster; up one day and down the next. I needed joy, real joy that comes only from God, and is based on something much more substantial and consistent.
I am amazed in how God works in such personal ways in our lives, if we will only take the time to recognize HIS hand moving. Recently I posted on facebook, that I was grateful that "the joy of the Lord is my strength." That very same day, I went to a gathering of Christian women, and a woman that I didn't even know, sat next to me. At one point in our sharing, this woman mentioned to me that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Wow! it gave me "God Bumps." It was if God had tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "see, I hear your request." Then, last week, the praise & worship team I am on at church, sang a song with the phrase; "the joy of the Lord is my strength." Once more, God confirmed the words he had placed in my heart.
Last week, I read many scriptures about joy. Here are a few that were special to me.
James 1:2 -3 "My brethern, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
Psalms 30:5 "weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Psalms 16:11 "In thy presence is fullness of joy: at thy right hand, there are pleasures forevermore."
Nehemiah 8:10 "the Joy of the Lord is your strength."
Psalms 51:12 "restore to me the joy of my salvation."
In closing, I would like to ask the question: "How can we have joy in the midst of trials and tribulations?"
The answer is simple: we, of our own strength and power can't; however, ONLY WITH GOD'S STRENGTH AND POWER IS THIS ATTAINABLE!
We need to remember that "with God, ALL things are possible" Mark 10:27
My prayer is that we all kind find that perfect joy in God; regardless of what trials and tribulations we are currently facing.