In the midst of this current era, we as Christians have a grand opportunity to effect a struggling world. We have a moment like no other to grow in a way we might not otherwise experience. We have a chance to see our way clearer to God than at any other time in recent history.
And we have an occasion to accelerate the greater understanding of the joy of the Lord. To drift deeper into it and learn to swim in it. To literally allow it to shine through us and, therefore, show the goodness of God in a powerful, sun-like ray of God’s hope to this dying world.
Beautiful words, but the truth is diving into the joy of the Lord can be much harder than we might think.
Joy is easy to access when trials exist in which the end is simple to see. The finances will be there with the next paycheck. That one you love is sick, but getting better. The car is broke, but it’s just a $100 part. All good examples of things we might endure accessing the joy of the Lord.
What if that next paycheck isn’t on the horizon. That strong, dependable spouse is in stage 4 cancer. The engine is shot and will cost more to repair than that old truck could possibly be worth. And it isn’t very hard to imagine far worse circumstances.
Now, where is the joy of the Lord in all of that? Keeping that joy can literally be proportionate to the circumstances we are enduring.
One of the hardest places we can be in while trying to find the joy of the Lord is deep into a situation that God Himself has placed us. Where we have spent time seeking Him and following His will in everything. Then, fully committed, the rug is yanked and we smash our proverbial nose on the floor of spiritual, mental, and, often as not, physical concrete.
Then what? How do we walk in the joy of the Lord at that point?
It’s a question that truly exists in our hearts. This week we celebrated two months into our new company. We are so excited. We prayed and sought the Lord. We wanted to get our LLC going. So we did. Our focus is always to celebrate Jesus through our business. Next, love on people. Then make a living. Of course, we knew that the business would not actually be self-sufficient for a while. Possibly years. We knew that. We also knew that our path was led of the Lord, so who truly knew how long before the blessing would come?
In the meantime, our main source of income was dramatically affected by the COVID-19 virus and I found myself on the side-line. Unemployment was promised. However, because of a less than stellar system, I have only received a very small portion of what I am supposed to get. Long story short, the finances that were supposed to come from that direction are not coming. And I cannot legally return to my other job. The rent is due. We’ve reached out for help from various directions with no results. We attended a craft show to sell our wares and left it in the hole. We are at no income and none in sight.
Walk in joy, you say?
This, of course, created a void in us and in our joy. We asked God how we were supposed to go forward. We asked to understand the next step. We loved the joy we experienced, how do we bring that back to have command of our path?
The world about us wades in the water of despair so deep it’s a constant battle to keep ahead above drowning. As Christians, we often give ourselves the wrong idea that we are protected from the wiles of life. But we are not. We have a connection that allows us to endure those trials, but not always dodge them.
I love how Bill Johnson describes it. He says that our place as Christians is not that we are never inundated with issues and trials. It’s that in the relationship we have with God we still see and deal with these problems, but we do not allow them to have an influence over our lives.
My circumstances do not change because I don’t want to go through them. In truth, I live “from glory to glory”. Victory to victory. Growth to growth.
I have a knot in my stomach. This crazy desire to grow into a greater place with Jesus. Part of what brings me joy in the midst of something that wants more than anything to destroy my positivity is knowing that on the other side of this, I will be stronger and (best of all) closer to Jesus. I will understand and, ultimately, be even hungrier for more. Which will lead me to another struggle that will be used to draw me even closer to Him.
Refinement by its very definition is an ever-increasing trial to become better. Like sandpaper works on wood, the difficulties of this life are meant to improve us. In that single understanding, I can find a source of joy to carry me through.
In the end, we must recognize the ABSOLUTE need for the joy of the Lord. As Christians living in a world kind of slipping off the edge, Joy is perhaps the hardest emotion to readily access and yet the most needed. And not the joy that comes from being happy, but the joy that comes from a relationship with the Father. That supernatural joy.
We can find a dozen different ways to get God’s joy in us. But it’s the realization that I have to choose joy. I have to be willing to fight for it. I have to go after it like it’s the last vestige of lasagna. The last breath of oxygen. The final drop of water…
Yeah, it’s that important.