Life: Imperfect but Joyful
Last night, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the Spirit, and felt an urgent need to pray for a friend who is undergoing a severe trial. As I prayed, other urgent needs for other friends came to mind. As they came, I prayed for each over the course of nearly two hours.
I am sure that none of that sounds unusual for those who are familiar with prayerful intercession before God’s throne. This morning, however, I realized that it wasn’t just two or three people but a long list, each an urgent need that has just come to the surface within a few days. Most were for immediate life-threatening health issues, and there were a few others as well. Even in my small circle it is quite a list, and it is all happening at the same time. It gave me pause to ask the Father what is going on and why.
As I processed this, I was reminded by the Spirit that our strength is found in the joy of the Lord, even when times are tough.
Then [Ezra] told them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. Nehemiah 8:10 (AMPC)
I imagine that there was a part of Christ that was joyful even on the cross, knowing that the ultimate victory was at hand, not dreading death but looking forward to everlasting glory and perfection. He found His strength and confidence in His joy, and it is His joy that brings us confidence and bulwarks our faith during trials. He looks at life’s troubles and His joy resonates in spite of them. As believers, we are to share in His joy.
I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. John 15:11 (AMPC)
This verse seems really important to me. God is full of joy, and one of the purposes of His joy is that we be filled to overflowing with it. When that happens, God is filled with joy at our joy. It is a self-fulfilling cycle, a perpetual joy machine!
I don’t know about you, but I do not always feel like joy is resonating in me, or like it is overflowing me. Partly, I think, this is because of my personality, nature, and conditioning. I am not one with a bubbly personality. I am reserved, analytical, and a fan of structure. But, none of that is reason not to be joyful. Lately, this has become a focus for me. It is something I desire and am consciously working on. I am being intentional about my approach to Joy, honoring it and inviting it into my life. Celebrating joyful moments from my past allows me to experience their joy again and generates a desire and anticipation of more to come.
It is a different perspective to be sure, but one that brings strength, which in turn brings confidence and peace. We can be joyful because God is joyful, and we find our joy established in His, even as we experience an imperfect life.