By Joan Davis
Years ago, when the children of a good friend of mine were very small, they would say a phrase to each other that has stuck with me throughout the years. When one of the children was upset with the others, he would say they were “stealing his joy”. I would smile and inwardly chuckle as it was a sweet way to express their annoyance with each other. But, as I have thought about it over the years I have wondered how often it is that our joy is actually “stolen”. I don’t mean our “happiness”, but instead, joy – joy in the Lord. You see, true joy is a gift from God and can only fade when we take our eyes off of Him. That kind of joy can’t be taken from us unless we allow it to be. Happiness is dependent upon our circumstances, but joy happens in spite of them.
I know this to be true! It was during an extremely challenging and painful time in my life that I first learned this truth. I found that as I stopped focusing on the difficulty and turned my attention to what the Lord was trying to teach me through the situation, joy re-entered my life. As I began to trust God and believe that He had a plan for me that was good, even though I was in the midst of turmoil, the tiny glimmer of light grew. And as it grew, so did my strength. God then enabled me to travel through that difficult season in my life and feel the joy that only knowing Jesus brings. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT).
When I began to focus on Jesus and His activity in and around my life I started to see things from a different view. I became hungry for His Word and I avidly read and studied its pages. I prayed and poured out my heart to Him…not just once or twice, but constantly throughout the day. When I awoke during the night and couldn’t sleep, I asked Him what He wanted to tell me in that moment, realizing it was He who had opened my eyes. The more I came before Him, the more I wanted to be with Him…and our relationship grew bringing a surprising joy and inner peace that I had never experienced before. In the midst of my sorrow, when I had lost so much, God’s loving embrace taught me to find the joy in Him. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy” (Psalm 5:11 NLT).
And as it is promised in the 23rd Psalm, God brought me through that valley and others that were to come later in my life. Now I cannot even imagine a day without Him. Stresses, difficulties and yes, some unhappy times may come and go, but I know that through it all, Jesus will be there to strengthen me. Nothing will take my joy from me for the Lord is my Joy, my Strength and my Redeemer forever. Amen!
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
In His Grip, Joan
Joan Davis started her blog, The Beauty in His Grip, in order to share her thankfulness to God for His redeeming hand on her life. She believes that everything happens for a reason and the life-lessons learned along the way should be shared with others in order to build up the body for Christ. It is her desire is to encourage other women through the lessons that God has taught her. Joan shares the incredible truth that we can never fall so far that we are beyond the reach of God. There are no lost causes, for He loves us all. It doesn’t matter how rocky our pasts, God will always accept us when we surrender our lives to Him. With Christ we can live a life filled with abundant joy simply by knowing and experiencing Him through His mercy, grace and unfailing love.