“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” Galatians 5:22
Of all the fruits of the Spirit, joy has been the one with which I have greatly struggled. My excuses were legitimate in my eyes, “Lord, do you see the circumstances, the relationships, the situations, … How can I have joy in this?” And He would lovingly respond by bringing me back to James 1:2-4:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
An opportunity for great joy! Are you kidding me?! I hated these verses! But, I loved the Lord more and wanted to become more like Him in this tumultuous world so that others would see Him. So, I began praying for joy no matter what the circumstances, relationships or situations.
My journey to joy began with faith. Did I trust the Lord to complete His promises to me? When the Lord called me to San Francisco, I trusted in His promised provision that He has given me through many Scripture passages. Yet, when the savings ran out, where was His promised provision? My faith was being tested. Do I stay or do I leave San Francisco? He did not change His call for me to be here, so I stayed. Thus, began the journey of endurance to trust that in His time and His way He would provide. Some days were really hard, but I learned to look to Him and be grateful for all things. He showed His love and faithfulness in so many ways as He walked me through enduring. One day, all I wanted was a little chocolate, but I could not justify spending food money frivolously. Suddenly, a neighbor stopped by. She had worked that day at a chocolate festival and asked would I like some (you guessed it!) chocolate! ❤️ The Lord loved me in the little things! While the Lord and I were beefing up the fruit of faithfulness and growing endurance, joy remained elusive. So, I sought the Lord for joy. Finally, I decided I needed to grab ahold of this verse and know its truth!
The Lord showed me that I needed a change is perspective. I was raised with the motto “if anything can go wrong, it will” and the adage “waiting for the other shoe to drop” in reference to undesirable things happening. The Lord showed me that I saw Him and life from under a dark cloud. He wanted to teach me a new perspective, one of joy even in the midst of troubles. So, I started the process to joy with Him.
“you make him glad with the joy of Your presence.” Psalms 21:6
I purposed to spend more time in praise and thanksgiving for all things, the good and the bad. I asked the Lord to see situations, relationships, and circumstances through His eyes and not mine. And joy began to creep in!
When I was involved with a woman who made a lane change mistake into my beloved Ebbe, (yes, my car has a name!), I chose to count it joy. It turned out that the woman had advanced Parkinson’s disease and should not have been driving. Yes, I could have gotten angry, but I chose joy and chose to thank the Lord that He used me to help this poor woman not to be driving any more. Though Ebbe was a bit battered, all of us were safe and unharmed, and it ultimately enabled our sweet Ebbe girl (a 2012 Honda Fit) to be retired after 193,000 faithful miles. I knew her transmission was getting tired, but we did not have the resources to replace her, until this happened. The insurance money enabled Pearl (a brand new 2020 Honda Fit) to take the reins for us traveling seniors! Count it all joy!
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
The Lord gave me the above verse as the name for my new car. His word was that I had given up security, stayed in San Francisco, had my faith tested by fire and endured for the sake of those pearls who had yet to embrace His truth. He was blessing me not only for faithfulness or endurance, but, also, for my quest in counting all things joy.
So, how is your joy? Has COVID and its seemingly endless changes to life as we knew it, racial tensions and political turmoil left your joy meter empty? Or, maybe, like me, you never have been able to grasp joy. Press in to Jesus. “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 As with me, He is waiting to fill you with His joy!
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
Your fellow traveler on the Jesus joy journey,