Lindsay Morgan is a native of Ohio who moved south 7 years ago where she met Jesus head on at age 31. Ever since then, she has been fascinated by His tangible presence and real love. Her writings usually include the grace, the struggle and the expectant heart of a moment by moment surrender to the God who created the Universe! Since recently moving to Los Angeles, California she continues on the journey step by step (sometimes wobbly) letting God write the story of her life. Find more at www.PuttingthePencilDown.com.
What is JOY anyway and why would God tell us in the book of James to “Consider it a sheer gift, when tests and challenges come at us from all sides?” [MSG]
The NIV says it like this…. “Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trails of many kinds”
I have written a lot about things such as worry,wonder, trust, staying in the moment, you name it I have been dealing with it and writing about it! Then I went to a retreat this past weekend with a dear friend of mine in ministry Sarah Ott, a very anointed teacher of God’s divinely penned Word! She is the kind of Bible teacher that after the first time I heard her, I wanted to go home, stay up all night and read the Bible, because I wanted to know what she knew, I wanted to know WHO she knew that gave her such peace and confidence in this life. A life that is often unpredictable and sometimes very painful! This, my friends, is a sign of a teacher appointed by God Himself!
I signed up for this retreat 3 months ago, at that time life had its questions, but nothing too overwhelming that I couldn’t “figure out” or work through with a little prayer, a little counseling and some encouragement from friends!
In the past 3 weeks, I have come upon a different time in my life, when honestly some of my biggest fears in life came to stare me right in the face.
All of this would have been completely paralyzing to me if God Himself had not brought me to a place of TRUST and PEACE in HIM…. It is Him in me, not me… I couldn’t do it myself; I could not face all of this myself….. Which brings me to what I learned this past weekend.
Suffering comes in all kinds of packages, nothing is too small. As Sarah said, a paper cut is a paper cut when it is not your finger, but when it is your finger, it hurts. At the same time nothing is too big for our God to handle, either! We should not compare our sufferings (or our blessings for that matter), we simply must endure our trials with the confidence that God is in control, not matter what.
Joy does not consider circumstance, it is not something to be mustered up, it is actually someone who dwells within us, who rises up within us (if in fact you have asked Jesus into your life, if you believe He came to set you free from your sins) then Jesus himself, in the form of a spirit, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you! And Jesus Himself is the source of Joy even in our suffering.
What I learned was Joy is to not worry, not to try to figure it out; we are not ultimately in control. Joy looks above and not ahead, Joy is a deep seated assurance that He is in control and admission you are not!
Sarah talked about when you are enveloped by a trial, pain, to first, give joy an opportunity, see it as an option, as a choice, not a feeling such as happiness, which comes and goes with good and bad circumstances, but to consider, joy, which is a confidence that God is sovereign and able to work ALL things for good!
Joy is not denial of fact, or pain, or suffering, it’s not putting your head in the sand and pretending what is going on is not going on, Joy admits the circumstances but sees Jesus in and through it.
Consider Joy, is considering Jesus (Hebrews 12:3), considering He to be present in your circumstance, knowing it is impossible to consider Joy in many painful, gut wrenching circumstances but instead to know that we can rest in Him and He will do it, do Joy, be Joy in us…. if it looks painful it may be painful to walk through but consider Him to be present, to walk with you, as it says in Hebrews “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who [Jesus] for the joy set before Him endured the cross!” the cross was painful, very painful I imagine, but He walked through it, He endured it because it was the will of the Father (Father God) and it was for us. So we would not have to go through anything alone, but we would have the Holy God of the universe, with us through it all.