I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. I must multi-task in my sleep, because even though I rested long enough, I was mentally exhausted before I ever left the house!
I experienced some disappointments this weekend that left me feeling somewhat less than cheerful. On top of all that, I have so many friends and family who are suffering in their bodies and also their finances. Some have been without work for months with no real prospects, yet there is a family to feed. Others are dealing with relationships that have all but fallen apart. Even my own dad faces a surgery tomorrow that I am not at all convinced will save his leg from amputation. I guess it's safe to say that with all that on my mind, I woke up feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Earlier in the week, I was sharing with a friend about how she could regain a joyful spirit. She'd expressed a concern over her own lack of joy and how she could get it back. I knew all too well what that was like and shared with her my own journey of reclaiming my lost joy after a far too long absence.
It's funny. Amidst the whirlwind of all these trials and heartache I found myself wondering this weekend, "What kind of a fraud are you? How can you counsel anyone about rediscovering their joy when you can't even muster some up when you need it?" (It is safe to say that I am more than just a little hard on myself, but that's for another blog.) As if I didn't have enough problems staring me in the face already, this one would not be easily overlooked.
Today I started contemplating my own words I had spoken to my friend earlier in the week. I began to listen to some my advice I had given her and began doing those things that typically bring me joy. Hmmmmm... Not much concentration needed in those tasks. So my mind was still a whirl.
Then as I sat down to my computer, I clicked onto my home page. One of the gadgets I have on it is Bible Verse of The Day, sponsored by BibleGateway.com. I highly encourage you to add it to your own apps. if you can. I believe I literally did a double take as read through the verse - one I'm sure I've read dozens of times.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
As I meditated on that verse what caught my eye was obviously the joyful part. But did you see what it said to be joyful in? Hope. It did not say to be joyful in affliction but patient, or to be joyful in prayer but faithful. Sure, you can go through trials and also be joyful in those things but that is not the command of this scripture. Joy is not something you are all the time but something you have deep inside that remains even when your feelings and emotions may dictate otherwise.
It is okay for me to not always be joyful especially when things are going wrong, way wrong. However, my joy should be in the hope that I serve a God who knows the outcome of this situation, who hears my cries and has promised to never leave nor forsake me. That's where the joy lies! Even now while jotting down these thoughts, I can feel hope stirring within me. Hope for dear friends and family whom I know have so little left. Hope that is empowering me to remain faithful in prayer and patient in my afflictions.
Suddenly, I don't feel so overwhelmed anymore. Just compelled to pray.
Father, there are people reading this who understand exactly what I'm talking about. They have issues so huge that they are dealing with that no one else could clearly understand. They are walking through pain they never knew existed, no matter how insignificant it my seem to others. I ask you to begin stirring up faith within their hearts to believe that you are a bigger God than the overwhelming shadow of their circumstances. Cause hope to take root as they begin to see that they are not alone and most certainly not forgotten, by the One who holds them tightly in His loving arms. Help us to remain joyful in hope, for indeed the joy of the Lord is our strength. I pray that we would be patient in our afflictions for Christ, himself was afflicted for us. Above all Father, cause us to remain faithful in prayer. For we know that the prayers of a righteous man avails much!
All this we ask in whom our only hope lies - none but Jesus.