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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Seeking Joy

 The question has been on my mind for days do you find joy? How? How do you find it when you hear of your good friend walking into the sadly anticipated good-bye as his mother slipped away from cancer, having bravely fought for five years? How do you find joy when your hope is deferred and you cannot bring your father home from the hospital today as you thought...that another few days there must fill up the calendar? How do you find joy when the enemies of God set out to discourage and take your peace, when those who hate everything He is...when the ones who fight His love, go after you - simply for believing and having faith? How do you find joy when you hear of shootings, floods, disrespect, hatred in the world...when it all appears to make you want to go wild? Is God even in control, you wonder? Where is life to be found in so much struggle? Where is that joy we seek?
 Today it strikes me as I take a walk through my neighborhood: perhaps joy is found not in that we do not mourn but in that, because we have mourned, such happiness can be possible. Perhaps it is found not because we have not experienced the rain but, because of the rain, the sun is more welcomed. Maybe true living is discovered in that we have tasted the sadness of death, and we can come to appreciate the moments, the little miracles, that tell of a Savior's love. Just maybe faith is strengthened not because it has not been tested but in that, because it was tested, it has been found firm. Not fearing isn't the point. It's conquering that fear that makes us winners in the journey of life. 
 So often, I realize, I think it is the absence of pain, the removal of trails, that gives me my joy. But I see now that the world cannot fully see my Jesus if such is the case. If they do not view my scars, if they do not see me running headlong into His arms when the storms arise, if they cannot watch me be upheld by the daily grace of Him alone...then my light is hidden. If I cannot be brave and shine when all I want to do is hide, then I am no ambassador for Him at all. I have failed.
 It is only when I have become truly broken that the Light of the World can shine through my cracked places. It is only when I have nothing on which to stand can the Rock of Ages be fully understood. It is only when I have learned to accept my sufferings as my teacher that I can completely look to Him and find the life, the joy, I so earnestly desire. 
 How do you find joy? You find it in the simple truth that, no matter what uncertainties plague your path, no matter what tragedies fill the journey, no matter what assaults His foes throw at sweet you - His chosen beloved - HE IS STILL ENOUGH! His love is all you need. His joy will fill you when you have no joy of your own to give...and isn't that the best anyway?! His grace will provide the strength you need when your own strength fails you totally. His peace will be your comfort when your heart beats wild and your thoughts run crazy and this world feels like a total mess. 
 When it all comes crashing down, you have a choice: you can choose to hide - and every human wants to - or you can let this dark world see how you shine in spite of it. And if you choose to shine Him, joy follows....even when it seems like there is no reason for it to be there.