Choosing Joy

Choose Joy“Choosing joy is being able to see God’s goodness even when life is hard and messy.” This was a quote that popped up in my news feed this morning. And as I read it, I had flash backs of the past few months. They have been hard. Brutal, actually. One of those seasons where life just won’t cut us a break. When one problem gets addressed, three more pop up in it’s place.

It’s tiring. Life has been draining. And God wants me to be joyful? In this? Joyful when our income doesn’t even make the bills each month? Joyful when my body is weak from months of constant sickness? Joyful as I watch my husband struggle to find a job? Joyful when I don’t know if we will be able to afford groceries this week?

And then He whispers… “But do you trust Me?”

Well, yeah…but I need you to fix these things. Fix them, God! They are keeping me from being able to worship you. From living a life whole-heartedly for you. They are distracting. All-consuming. If you would just take these things, then life could be right.

“But life is right.” He whispers again. ” You are right where I need you. Right where you have no other choice but to trust me. To stand back and watch me provide for you. To stand back and watch me be your strength when your body has none. To watch life unfold and know there is no other explanation but God.”

And then He moves in. And not only does He provide for me, He provides abundantly. He provides so lovingly, because thats who He is. In the past two weeks, there has been one provision after another. Gift cards, checks, anonymous cash, friends filling the back seat of our car with groceries. Friends filling our cabinets with food and our freezer with meat. Answered prayers for direction and unity between my husband and I. A phone call asking if I needed some part-time income, and another possible part-time job already in the works. He blesses me, even when I come to Him in my doubt and my anxiousness. He provides so lovingly, not because I have done anything to deserve his love, but because He first loved me.

And then He directed me to this verse. One of the first verses I ever memorized as a kid. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Life never looks the way we think it will. And there is never going to be a time on this earth that there aren’t trials. I find that when I try to rely on my own understanding, and my own direction, that’s when I get frustrated. Angry. Bitter. But when I am willing to step back and let Him lead, all of a sudden his peace floods my heart. He gives me His peace in the midst of uncertainty. He gives me His joy in the midst of constant trials. Having God’s joy doesn’t mean that life makes sense, or that it even looks the way I thought it was supposed to. It means that we choose to see his goodness even when life doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t come naturally to any of us, that’s why it’s called a choice.  A choice to trust Him and accept his joy. “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

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