These things I have spoken to you,
that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
(John 15:11 ESV)
I find it startling at times, the number of people who make comments to me about how I have handled this walk of grief since my husband’s passing. Startling, because they seem to paint a picture I feel I am not. Inspirational. Admirable. Amazing. Polished. Refined. Whoa. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill! Descriptive words I can assure you, I feel anything but. Fearful. Weak. Confused. A hot mess. Now, you’re talking! That is how I view myself.
However, there is one word that not only calls me to self-examination, but also, calls me to embrace and seek to achieve.
Joyful in the sorrow?
When people ask me why I can still be joyful even in this walk of widowhood and the addition of several other trials, I know my reply can only point to my Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual joy is a gift and it should be our desire to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Even in the trials and tribulations.
I wish I could say I always fulfill this descriptive word. I can not. So, I often examine where I am and evaluate where God wants me. Recent events have caused me to feel the JOY in my life deflating as quickly as a balloon pricked by a pin. I have come to the realization it is the invasion of these pesky annoyances that can wreak havoc on our joy. However, I know this is the worldly way. The worldly view of joy is fickle and temporary. It is a joy that comes and goes based on our circumstances. This joy pales in comparison to the true joy only God can give us. It is not a feeling – it is our choice whether we embrace this joy God desires for us.
Whenever people truly know, love and worship God, He instills a joy that only He can put into the hearts of worshipers. It is not based on circumstances or objects. Whatever we are going through, this joy can not be taken away. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. I believe as followers of Christ, no matter how dark our season of sadness is, we are never completely without joy in God, if only a remembered taste of its goodness.
Trust me. I need to hear this reminder daily. Sometimes the heaviness of life’s challenges can bear down so intensely, it is easy to let it zap the joy out of us. Problems. Hurting hearts. Loneliness. Health concerns. Financial woes. Single parenting. These circumstances are real and they are challenging.
But, I know I must trust God is my strength and comfort no matter the situation. I will choose to rejoice always. I will remember I am a daughter of the King and apart from Him there can be no joy.
We are forgiven children of God and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. That alone is worth shouting for joy.
Father, thank You for Your promise to always be our strength and comfort in all situations. May we find our way to “rejoice always” even in the hard times. Yes, Lord, may we choose Your gift of Joy so others can see You in us. Amen
Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest. And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.
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