"Mirror Of Ink"

I look into this mirror of ink and see a soul that has no beauty in itself, but is silvery-white in the light of

Your Grace that covers me and makes me new.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 8- Re"joy"ce

As I began my second week in this journey of Spirit-led living, I was somewhat apprehensive about the "joy" week. I have always been perceived as a happy person, but there has been a deep-down struggle in me for many years to maintain the joy that I knew God desired for me to have. I have battled depression several times, and have not been very vocal about that battle until now. I feel in order to truly let the Spirit lead me and bear this joy in my life, I have to be honest about my past struggles in this area.

I really do love life. I have been blessed to experience so many wonderful things, yet still find appreciation for the simple things in life. I would not consider myself to be a moody or negative person. But for whatever reason, I have struggled with depression. It seems there is always this nagging voice inside of me trying to draw me down into myself and away from others. I am thankful that I have never battled severe depression or seriously contemplated suicide. But I have struggled with feelings of insignificance, insecurity, worthlessness and failure.

Through these times, I am always reminded of the verse I learned as a child, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) I have recited this verse to myself, and even offered it as a source of encouragement to others, but as I started this week focused on joy, I decided to really research "joy" and why this is such an important characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit as to be described as a source of strength. Here is what I found:

Joy- Intense and exultant happiness; the expression or manifestation of such a feeling; something causing such a feeling

Middle English joie, from Old French, from Latin gaudia, pl. of gaudium, joy, from gaudre, to rejoice

Looking back at the verse, I see that it is not simply joy itself that gives us strength, for joy in and of itself can be a contrived feeling of happiness, not something that can only be birthed by the Holy Spirit. But the joy that the Word speaks of as a source of strength is the "joy of the Lord". The Lord alone is the source of our joy, and consequently, our strength.

As I looked further at the root of the word joy, and realized that it comes from a verb that requires action, I believe that the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me the truth about His joy and the strength we find in it. Joy is not simply a feeling of happiness. It is not a plastic smile pasted on the face of a Christian going through a difficult time. It is not even the absence of tears or grief during a loss. Joy is the supernatural ability to rejoice during those times; to find strength in the Lord and a voice to worship, no matter what the circumstance.

There have been times that I have made excuses for my depression. I rationalized that my feelings were a result of bad circumstances or the reality of the difficulty of life. I convinced myself that the Lord would return strength to me when He returned my joy and turned my situation around. But I have failed to see that although my situation may change, the source of my joy never does. And because of Jesus Christ, I can choose to rejoice. I can turn my eyes toward heaven and find unspeakable joy in the hope that I have in Jesus.

Joy is not just a feeling. It is not something that is given or taken away. It my internal response to a source. If I choose to make my source my circumstances, then I will continue to struggle with maintaining joy in my life. But if my source is Jesus Christ, the unchanging hope of glory, then joy is only a whisper away. When I rejoice and choose to worship my God, joy is inevitable in my life.

"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!" Psalm 40:16

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh!!! You've discovered the 'trick'....your FOCUS! Sounds simple, but it isn't. I was trying to pray in the sanctuary Sunday before Sunday School (which we've been asked to do by our music miniter), but people were practicing a skit, working in the sound booth, visiting with one another. It struck me that this is exactly how it is when you're trying to keep your focus on the Lord in every day life. The things of life can be so distracting, pulling your focus away from the source of your joy, the Lord Jesus. The world is yelling at you, the responsibilities (God-given) of life are screaming at you, the tragedies of life grab at you. It can be so difficult to keep your Focus. But we must. It's like Peter walking on the water. As long as we focus on the Lord, the 'waves' won't pull us down. Focus on the 'waves,' and you're SUNK!

Aunt Martha