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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Choosing Joy in Challenging Times

When you tell people that your word for the year is "Joy", you may receive some similar reactions. Some people then expect you to don pink glasses, dance, twirl, and sing like Glinda from "The Wizard of Oz" and her little Munchkins,
"Fa la la la la, la la la, la la la."

Some people may roll their eyes and scoff at your naivete'. "Surely you don't think it is possible to be happy all the time?" Some people may impose their negative circumstance upon you. "Jolly good for you, you aren't facing *insert challenge* like I am." And, some people will have a response of life-giving proportion. Perhaps they have already found joy themselves. They will smile, affirm your choice, perhaps give you a motivational post on your facebook page or tag you in an Instagram photo.

The verse that first prompted me to consider "Joy" for the year spoke of considering joy.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Just yesterday, I had an amazing dream. I was bold, courageous, not afraid to fight and defend on behalf of others! Spiritually in the dream, I was battling the dark shadow people and completely confident that the Lord was with me! I awoke charged up, ready to go, saw some amazing things, heard amazing praises, it was a high!
Last night I don't remember dreaming. I don't know why I awoke at 3:30am, nor why I stayed awake until 4:30am.

Today, joy was a choice. I had a challenge in the afternoon, one I knew was coming, but was not looking forward to. It was necessary, it would be good for me, good for the other person directly involved, but still, it would be difficult, painful, and would be draining emotionally, mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.
I knew my situation needed to progress. It was time. We had to face the giant, knowing we could defeat it. 
Still, joy was not my first thought today.
Did I want to face this challenge?
I wanted the Jonah option. Next ticket to Tarsus, please!

Now that it's done, progress has been made, I am trying to focus on the joy that is mine to have. Something happened. We had breakthrough. This has been a process over four years in the making. Last year, I chose "Trust". I wanted to trust God fully. Somehow, in all the turmoil that came, the brokenness that had to happen, He helped me lose that trust in myself and find my trust in Him.

I anticipate that this year is going to bring harder challenges, but it's because I'm deeply rooted in Him (Colossians 2:7) and it will only bring us closer together.

Truly, is that not joy? That my heart would be closer to my God, and my journey home would be that much closer to its blessed reunion?! I want to be refined, matured, to let go of the need for affirmation and to instead be full of rejoicing in hearts reached for Him. For His kingdom to advance,
we must be prepared to let Him work in us and through us. That takes a lot, but He promises we will not lack anything when perseverance has finished its work!

I encourage you to draw close to Him. He is speaking to me through the prophets this year. Isaiah, Joel, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, all their voices are being brought to life again! His Word was in the beginning and is still alive and speaking.

Choose to find the joy. It is there if you are looking for it. Joy is a reward. A reminder that we are being used for His glory, and the Holiness of God passing through us refines us in the passing!

May His praises be ever on my lips. (Psalm 34:1)


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