I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Excuse me if I seem distracted but something is a little off. It seems as though my joy has escaped me and I am in a desperate search to find it once more. What does it look like? The world defines joy as a deep feeling of happiness or contentment based on one’s emotions. Joy also can be the name of the source of one’s happiness. It is considered to be an outward expression of happiness and delight. Well, I have news for the world you can fake happiness and find temporary pleasure in momentary delights that in the end leave us alone hopelessly without a future. Happiness and pleasure cannot cure cancer. It cannot solve my problems. It will never give me peace. I need something more concrete. I need joy that flows like a river replenishing my soul. The joy that I need to sustain me is found in a person – His Name is Jesus Christ but He left to prepare a place for me called my future hope. But I have to get through this life to step into Eternity and lately it has been a little (or a lot) rough. I am clearly instructed to “always be joyful.” The Lord is not telling me to fake happiness but to be filled with joy that can only come from Him. I want to be. I have to be. I will never make it through the next few months of my life without His Joy and Peace to guide and protect me. I must be joy full.
The journey of our life over the last three years has culminated in this moment. In just a couple weeks our son will undergo a bone marrow transplant that will hopefully end his long battle against cancer. This week has been grueling. I cannot express what it is like to watch your child go through all this young man has endured. For three days, I have watched them literally suck the life out of him as they have transfused his blood from his body through a machine filtering out precious stem cells and returning what’s left. Surrounding by families battling similar diseases and problems, the sorrow filling the room is contagious. My heartaches to see little girls who should be wearing big bows instead in ball caps to hide their missing locks. Little boys who should be running, playing, chasing frogs or catching footballs too weak to stand from their chair. Where is the joy in all this, Lord? I converse with all my other children via texting or other technology. I miss them. We have missed many moments in the last few years as I sit with their brother through treatment after treatment. When he goes to transplant, I will miss months of their lives again. Where is the joy in this separation? Am I supposed to be thankful just because he is alive? God did not create us to survive. He made us to thrive. (Isaiah 44:3-5) I am looking for my joy so I can wipe away these tears. I didn’t even know they were coming until it was too late. I am usually pretty good and stopping them right behind my eyes so that they do not give others the wrong impression. It was my son who told me that in our situation, we must smile or people will think there is something wrong with us.
Philippians 4:4-5 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
The joy of the Lord is a wonderful thing. I have experienced it many, many times. But today I struggle with that word “always”. It is unconditional and extensive. It means every time, on every occasion and without exception. Seriously? Well, He didn’t say it once but twice. Rejoice is the expression of the joy that is within us when it rises up to produce praise in our life. We must consider joy as a factor in all we do, wherever we go and in every word that we speak. Praise is evidence of faith and confidence in God’s Plan and Provision for our life. Anything else would come across as grumbling, complaining or dissatisfaction. If joy resembles contentment in my life, then I must look to the only One who can satisfy my soul to find it. This world didn’t give it to me so it has no right to take away.
Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Hope can never lead to disappointment. (Romans 5:5) However, it may take some time to reach fulfillment. This process is called endurance. (Romans 5:1-4) Those who endure to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) But did you notice that hope comes after endurance in the order of things. Hope is the reason that we endure. Hope can be deferred though. Defer means put off action or consideration until a certain time. I work with financial aid administering scholarships and grants for students. Once we know that they are eligible for a certain amount of funding, we “defer” their tuition and fees until their funding arrives to satisfy the debt. Hope deferred is when we continue to follow the Lord, trust in Him, and wait for that which we have confidence He can deliver. I do not like to wait. But it is a very necessary part of the process of faith as God perfects that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) and turns every detail of our life into the Goodness that He decided we should have. (Romans 8:28) Just for the record, this is consistently more than we could ever think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) Now if a student who was eligible for funding does not meet the requirements of the agency funding them or withdraws from school early – the forfeit their grant. If we abort God’s Process by refusing to wait on Him, we end our pursuit of hope. It was not taken from us but we ended our mission to have it. But if I may, let’s talk about the comma in the sentence.
A comma means pause or take a breath and continue. Hope deferred makes the heart sick “,”. See it right there. This is the waiting period. The place where God tells us to wait, hang on, pause while I finish all the details. If that moment comes before the healing it seems like forever but the truth is it is only a breath to God. What do we do in that moment? Where do we find solace in the “pause” of life? Endurance is the key to survival when hope is deferred right before joy comes. Those who endure this period move on to fulfillment. You don’t have to wait to find joy in God’s Fulfillment when He has equipped you to find joy in the wait!
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The Lord has given us His Spirit. He died for us to have it. (Isaiah 53:4-6) Once our sin debt was covered, it opened the door to God’s Presence for God’s Children once more. We have open access to the Presence of God as well as His Spirit inside of us. We are never alone. Sorrow is a part of life along with hardships, trial and trouble. The Word of God tells us that the Valley of Weeping is a necessary step in our pilgrimage with God. (Psalm 84:5-6) We must get through this life to step into Eternity with our faith intact. Without faith, there is no hope. Solomon indicated that “sorrow was better than laughter because it had a refining influence on our life.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3) I may even agree when I consider how my life has changed for the better in the midst of this challenge. My tears are not in vain. God is collecting them. (Psalm 56:8) He is keeping track of my sorrows ready to make good on His Promise to turn them for my own good. Jesus knew we would face difficulties and have sorrows in this world so He promised to leave us His Spirit to help us. (John 16:22-24) He did just that now we have the overcoming power of Jesus Christ inside of us and we should not be afraid to use Him. (John 16:33)
Psalm 30:4-5 (NLT)
Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
It is not uncommon for nighttime to be when I am overcome with tears. It is the end of the day. I am tired. Emotionally drained continuing everyday life with this overwhelming burden on my heart. It seems as though in the midst of those tears, I can hear God tell me “this too shall pass” and “joy is coming in the morning”. Weeping and sorrow is just a part of this life. It will happen to each one of you if it has not already happened several times. During these wait periods as God perfects that which concerns us – we must always be joy full. If the Holy Spirit is constantly bearing His Fruit in our life, no matter what our situation is, we will be content. Contentment produces joy. Maybe if we knew what exactly is coming each morning, we would do a better job of making it through the dark times. God promises that His Unfailing Love will cover us each morning. (Psalm 90:14) He also promises new mercies will arrive. (Lamentations 3:23) His Faithfulness is evident in His Constant Pursuit of perfection in our life. The Lord will show us how to live so that we will have joy and pleasure forever. (Psalm 16:11) As we come into the Lord’s Presence in search of His Love and Mercy, He gives us peace and joy. God becomes our strength and shield lightening the burden and protecting us from attack. The more that we trust Him the more joy and peace we find in Him. (Psalm 28:7) The Lord has given us His Word to revive our soul. (Psalm 19:7-8) His Word encourages us when we are filled with sorrow or sadness. (Psalm 119:28) The problem is not in God’s Provision but our position. If we move out of the Presence of God, the burden of our life overwhelms us and hope seems futile because there is no end in sight. This is when we must run back to Jesus and fling our life back in His Hands as His Presence encompasses our life once more like a giant bear hug from a father pulling his small child as close as possible. “Restore our fortunes, LORD, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” (Psalm 126:4-6)
Psalm 33:1-3 (NLT)
Let the godly sing for joy to the LORD; it is fitting for the pure to praise him. Praise the LORD with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
Praise is possible when our joy is full and complete in Jesus Christ and overflows from our life. I will never be able to praise the Lord properly until I am filled with His Joy and Peace that comes from contentment. The Bible calls contentment great gain and I agree. I am satisfied that our son will survive treatment and live a successful and full life by the Word of God through Jesus Christ. I am fully confident in His Word to me concerning my son. My joy leaked out when I started looking at individual circumstances of my life and became discontent in the moment not focusing on the outcome. The Lord is making all things new. (Revelation 21:5) Is it possible that God is making a new song in you? When a band has an overnight success with a new song, it is not enough to keep them in the spotlight. They must continually put out new songs to stay there. If I only have one thing to praise God about, my song will get old. My light will not be as bright because it is a one-hit wonder. But when God is continually working in and through me His Glory becomes evident. We are to live from glory to glory not get-by to get-by. I will not let go of the past and embrace the future until there is nothing left in my past to hold on to. Situations shake me free of old things to take hold of new things. He is turning my mourning into dancing to the beat of a different drum. (Psalm 30:11-12) The change is causing me a problem because my happiness got attached to the wrong things. But when I put all my faith and hope back into Jesus Christ – He pours on the joy and peace giving a new song to praise Him as I move from Glory to Glory! “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) God’s Promises will produce praise in our life when hope deferred does not make us sick but expectant. Joy full people are content in the pauses, commas, and wait times of life knowing it will be worth it in the end. For now anyway, hope is deferred and we will walk the steps before us to victory in Jesus. But I will continually seek the joy of the Lord and make it my strength to hang on through the tough times and shelter me in the storm. His Unfailing Love and Mercy belong to me. It doesn’t matter how long the darkness lasts – the Lord is my Light and Salvation. (Psalm 27:1) All I can say is Lord make me joy full today and by the way, thank you for morning!
2 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NLT)
We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.