Thursday, February 7, 2013

Time for Joy - Part 5

Joy is a choice.... So are you choosing joy in your circumstances?  Are you shifting the way you think?
I hope so but I have to admit that there are some circumstances that can make it extremely difficult to choose joy.

Like a parent of a small child that has a chronic illness.  That's makes it hard to choose joy.  Or when you yourself have suffered most of your life at the hands of another.  What about when you are going along nicely and are stricken with a chronic illness.  Maybe your spouse or child gets in a car accident and now needs constant care from you.  What about watching your aging parent lose their ability to care for themselves.  Maybe it's your marriage that is difficult and leaves you with deep depression. 

Is it possible to still find joy in the midst of the difficult?  Can we find a place of joy even when suffering is consuming our life?   It's a tall order to seek joy when you are suffering.  Most of us would rather curl up in a ball somewhere and stay miserable.    But then there are some that learn to overcome and live in a place of contentment and joy in spite of the suffering.  If you will allow me.... today I would like to share with you some of the secrets they have found.

First I would like to tell you about a fellow blogger named Lori Laws.  Lori has Muscular Dystrophy and has written a book titled "A Blessing in the Storm....Muscular Dystrophy messed up my life and made me whole."   In her memoir she shares her story of how her life was great.  Life was going along fine when along came Muscular Dystrophy and messed up her whole world.  But in her suffering circumstances she found what really lacked in her life.  She found Jesus Christ and he made her whole on the inside.  She still struggles with her illness everyday but she uses her circumstance to encourage others.  She carries in her a great contentment and joy that comes only from Christ.  In the storm of her suffering she has found great blessing.  She finds her blessing by keeping her eyes on the one who can give joy even when life gets hard.

This scripture fits her circumstance.

Colossians 1: 10-11 - That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy.

The writer of Colossians is trying to tell us....To have patience, suffer long and still have joy, you need to do these things......   

1.  Walk worthy of the Lord.... Be pleasing to Him - How do we walk worthy of the Lord?  We obey Him.  If we love Him, we will obey His commands. 

2.  Be fruitful in every good work. -  Do good with what you have been given.  Even in your suffering you can find good to do. 

3.  Increase in the knowledge of God. - The Word of God is living and healing for the soul.  God tells us to increase in knowledge of God because that is what will continue our relationship with Him to grow.  His joy is often found in the Word.  In Jeremiah 15:16 he said Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

4. Be strengthened by His might and glorious power.  - Lean in!  Supernatural power comes only from a supernatural source.  God is the only supernatural source that can supply joy in the midst of suffering.  Nehemiah  8:10b says "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Let Him be your joy and your strength.

One last story for you before I go...  

In the book "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg, he shares a story about a woman named Mabel.  A pastor friend of his visited a state-run convalescent hospital and met Mabel.  When he met her she was strapped in a wheel chair sitting at the end of a long hallway.  The sight of her was absolute horror.  Such so that new nurses were sent to feed her as their first duty to test them.  If they could stand the sight of her, they could stand most anything. 

Mabel sat in her wheelchair with an empty stare because she was blind.  In her ear was a large hearing aid because she was nearly deaf.  One side of her face was eaten by cancer and there were discolored and running sores covering part of one check.  The cancer had pushed her nose to one side, dropped one eye and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth She drooled constantly.  And now at the age of eighty-nine years old, she had been here, bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, and alone for twenty-five years. 

The pastor goes on to tell about his encounter that day with Mabel.  He ends up continuing to visit her each week.  First the visits were for her...but eventually the visits became for Himself.  You see, Mabel had something that most of us don't have, she had joy and contentment even in her suffering. 

The young pastor began asking himself, " What does Mabel have to think about - hour after hour, day after day, week after week, not even able to know if it's day or night?"   The next visit he asks her "Mabel what do you think about when you lie here?" 

This was her reply..... "I think about Jesus.  I think about how good He's been to me.  He's been awfully good to me in my life, you know....I'm one of those kind who's mostly satisfied... Lot's of folks wouldn't care much for what I think.  Lot's of folks would think I'm kinda of old-fashioned.  But I don't care.  I'd rather have Jesus.  He's all the world to me." 

You see.... Mabel had the joy of the Lord.... She had all she needed.  And you can too.


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