As I lay awake tonight, I began to pray hoping my single focused mind would drift off to sleep again, despite my being uncomfortable. The fruits of the Spirit began to run through my head. “Love, Joy, Peace … Joy … Joy? Oh ya! Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I forgot about Joy.”
You see, for years, my favorite word has been Hope. I just felt Hope defined my relationship with Christ. I had a rough childhood and as an adult I accepted Christ at 23 and never really looked back to my old life. In Christ I found Hope. Hope that all things work out for good. Hope that my sins would be forgiven and I could be the person Christ had created me to be. Hope that I could be a good wife and mother despite my short comings. I had Hope for 20 years.
Lost My Hope
Then 2 years ago, I lost my dad, one of my very best friends. And I just sank into the pit of despair. It was awful, I was a mess and I lost my Hope. The worst part is that I didn’t care. What kind of Christian was I? I lost my dad, so what? Everyone looses their parents. Why was I taking it so hard? Why couldn’t I just trust that Christ knew what He was doing? That He works all things out for the good of those who love Him? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. I was blinded by anger. I couldn’t see the good God was doing.
Joy Found Me
As December came around this year, I found myself not a mess any longer. I had found my Hope again. I had been slowly making my way back to Hope, but for some reason December flipped the switch in my brain and my heart felt lighter. I was smiling more, I was looking forward to Christmas, I even tried to prepare financially to buy gifts. (then we had multiple car issues) Once I got over being mad about having to spend all the Christmas funds on car repair and towing bills, I still was looking forward to Christmas.
Then it hit me. I have JOY! Once I recognized Joy, I begin to ask for Joy to be in my heart daily. Every morning I would pray and ask the Lord to give me Joy anyway. Despite my broken heart, despite our lack of Christmas funds, despite everything that could bog me down, I want Joy anyway. He came through for me and Joy was in my heart most days.
Small Set Back
Last week, I had a couple days that I just couldn’t keep my Joy. Christmas was coming and daddy wouldn’t be here. I could see mama was struggling with it too. So for a couple days, I just broke down and cried. Once I let it out, it was over.
I will see those tears again. The sting will return to my eyes. The pain will again run down my cheeks, but not for awhile.
So you see, that’s why when I was reciting the Fruits of the Spirit, a little while ago, when I came to Joy it hit me. I remembered that the Spirit of Christ lives in me and as I drew closer to Him at the beginning of the month, Joy showed up and I didn’t even see it coming. I like Joy. Maybe because I had been working my way back to Hope, Joy came too.
Joy Is In The Bible 242 times (here are just a few)
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(This one Jeffrey writes often on his note to me in the morning)
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.
Trials and Temptations
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Galatians 5:22-23 (Fruits of the Spirit)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Joy For The New Year
For 2016, I think I will make it a priority to seek Joy. To continue to ask for Joy anyway, each and every day. Maybe the sting of loss will be less painful. Maybe those good memories that everyone talks about will finally show up as well. Maybe, just maybe I will have Hope, Joy and Peace even. (it’s 5 am, I think I will try to go back to sleep now)
What word defines your relationship with Christ? Leave it in the “Leave Reply” link above.