Joy!

This post is long overdue.  (It’s a good thing I don’t get paid to write or publish!)

My excuse is that I was busy, and my reason is that I was struggling with the topic of JOY. 

I started and stopped several times, and I didn’t quite know why joy was such a difficult topic.  I am not a particularly unhappy person. However, each time I sat down to write about joy, I found myself overwhelmed with frustration as I kept being reminded of so many obstacles and hardships that many of us face.  Joy just seemed too lightweight compared to things like depression, anxiety, death, grief, loss, fear, and especially now – loneliness.  And, I was especially confronted with those experiences in my own family, especially as a mom.

And then this morning, I finally felt released to revise and publish this post according to what the Lord shared with me. 

I still am not a fan of this empty nest thing.  I miss my kids a lot, especially now. (I was supposed to be back in the US right now helping my daughter move.  Stupid COVID-19.) 

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Apparently, it is quite obvious how much so.  Our young adult children were able to come visit us in December, and I made sure they made it to my school so I could take them around to meet as many staff and friends as possible.  Over and over, my co-workers greeted them by saying, “I’ve heard so much about you,” and “Your mom is really glad you’re here.”  As I’m standing there grinning from ear to ear, I realize the refrain is becoming a bit of a joke. I am not a bit ashamed of how much I talked about them.

I love my kids a lot, but I can’t love like God.  I know this because I recognize that as much as I devoted and poured into them, I still don’t know or love them as our Heavenly Father does.  I did a lot of things right, AND I made lots of mistakes. Even as hard as I tried (and still do), I couldn’t (and can’t) love them well enough to keep them from experiencing fear, doubt, grief, and losses – sometimes from my own choices and words.

But God is their Heavenly Father.  He has provided redemption for me, and He can heal what I harmed.  There is no room for pride.  There is all the room for joy. 

Have you heard the song, The Joy of the Lord is my Strength?  I mentioned this song briefly in the post, Music in Me.

It is my joy in the Lord that strengthens me – my joy in knowing the Lord and trusting Him. I trust Him to complete the work He started in my family and me.

Perhaps joy is like a muscle we all use, but don’t realize how it works until we try to isolate it.  It’s important, and it needs other muscles working collaboratively to be effective. 

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More importantly, we need to work collaboratively with God. 

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 – 30  “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (HCSB)  This is what I read this morning that helped me feel free to publish this post.  I will continue to collaborate with the work God is doing, and trust Him. 

This is how I find my joy in the Lord and find strength.

  • Joy in knowing that God loves them more than I do.
  • Joy in knowing that God knows them better than I do.
  • Joy in knowing that God has heard all my prayers.
  • Joy in knowing that God has a plan for them, and He will work it out according to His will, a plan that has been arranged since well before they were born.
  • Joy in knowing what He has done for me, He will do for them.
  • Joy in knowing that God understands our weaknesses, and He has provided a way to bring us into a right relationship with Him.
  • Joy in knowing God’s love really is perfect.
  • Joy in knowing that God forgives.
  • Joy in knowing Jesus Christ.

There are so many songs written about ‘joy’- old hymns and new praise and worship pieces.  Here’s a list of just 10, https://www.mediashout.com/worship-songs-about-joy/

So when I get down, I sing.  I worship God.  I praise the Holy One.  I claim Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I let the Holy Spirit fill me with joy.

Friends, there is nothing lightweight about that!

Here is where I find the Truth in the scriptures:

Nehemiah 8: 9-12 (At the reading of the law) “Do not grieve, because your strength comes from rejoicing in the Lord.” (Verse 10, HCSB)

Psalm 30:5 “For His anger lasts only a moment, bus His favor, a lifetime.  Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.”

Psalm 30:11-12 “You turned my lament into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, so that I can sing to You and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise You forever.”

Psalm 94:19 “When my anxious inner thoughts become overwhelming, your comfort encourages me.” (ISV)

Scripture even talks about God singing over us!

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (ESV)

John 15:11 “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (NLT)

Here’s something to lift you up! Overflow by Tobymac. Enjoy!

The Music In Me

Have you ever woken up with a song already playing in your head?

black vinyl player

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It happens to me with some regularity.

How does that even happen? Am I somehow picking up radio signals floating through the air? Or is it some leftover subconscious remnant from a forgotten dream?

Usually, I can identify why a song is at the top of my mental jukebox. But last week, I woke up with snippets of a song, a hymn mind you, that I haven’t heard or sung in decades! I just heard in my mind –

“ . . . let us have a little talk with Jesus, let us tell Him all about our troubles . . . ”

That led to me thinking about –

Sweet Hour of Prayer and Heavenly Sunshine with undercurrents of In the Garden, It is Well With My Soul, and What a Friend We Have In Jesus.

I guess it was a hymnal day.

purple lavender over note pages

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The hymns I grew up singing played a significant role in developing my childhood foundations of faith, and even now, help sustain truths that are often buried under the weight of so many distractions and adult responsibilities.

Last month, I wrote about the Voices of Encouragement seminar I attended and J-L’s statement of affirmation. After letting the idea of creating my own affirmation statement stew for a while, I decided to put together key phrases from some of those important hymns and scriptures to read each day.

Here’s the draft I have so far:

I sing because –

Love Lifted Me

What A Friend I Have In Jesus who has

Established a (How) “Firm Foundation in His excellent Word

This knowledge is like Heavenly Sunshine “filling my soul with joy”

And even when I am weary and dismayed

I can –

Have a Little Talk With Jesus in my Sweet Hour of Prayer with

My Blessed Redeemer who gives me peace so that I may say

It is Well With My Soul as I kneel and remember

My salvation purchased At the Cross, The Old Rugged Cross

Then I’m Standing on the Promises and move confidently

Onward Christian Soldier Because of His Amazing Grace.

God, You remind me that –

You have known me from the beginning.

You formed me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

You have created me for good works

And equipped me with every gift I need (2 Tim. 3:17).

You will complete the good work You started in me (Eph. 2:10).

You give me courage, faith, and grace.

You loved me before I knew You (1 John 4:10).

You hear me and know me.

Therefore,

I will put my confidence in You, for You are mighty to save.

You are steadfast and strong.

I will praise Your Holy Name.

I will keep my eyes fixed on Your and fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12).

I will daily put on the armor,

the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth,

shoes that are ready to spread the gospel of peace,

the helmet of the knowledge of my salvation,

holding the shield of faith, and the sword that is Your Holy Word (Eph. 6: 13 – 17).

I will trust You.

I will believe in Your promises, that You are good, true, and faithful (Deut.32:4 and 1 Cor. 1:9).

For your love endures forever (Psalm 136). Amen

I’m new at this affirmation thing, but I’ve noticed on the mornings when I read this, I feel more confident going into the day.

My hope in sharing this is that you will find your own way to put together the things God has shown you, to strengthen, and encourage you.

Interestingly, you may have heard the song, The Joy of the Lord is my Strength. I’ve always wondered, what is the joy of the Lord? How can I bring joy to the Lord, and how does that give me strength? Is it by being more obedient, giving more in service, having more faith?

I don’t know for sure yet, but maybe I’ve had that idea backwards.

This week, it occurred to me that maybe it’s not about what brings joy to the Lord that strengthens me. Maybe it’s when I find joy in the Lord that gives me strength.

What do you think?

I’d love for you to share your own affirmation statements!

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