Please join me in welcoming Danita Janae to the blog, as she guest posts about finding joy in God’s word, even if at first it irritates you.
Something you and Lauren and I have in common is our quest to find joy even in the face of chronic illness, depression, and plenty of other trials. But to be honest with you, I used to detest that verse that says, “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith will produce perseverance,” James 1:2-3. That verse annoyed me. Why? Because if I read something in God’s Word, then I believe it’s true. And whenever I read something in God’s Word that doesn’t line up with my experience, it aggravates me. But in a good way. Bare with me here.
That aggravation is so much like what makes a pearl at the bottom of the sea. Stay with me. A tiny speck of irritation rubs and rubs against the inside of an oyster until it transforms into a little round reflection of the very thing it was irritating. Are you tracking? It’s like when I come to God’s Word, His radiant, luminescent, transcending Word, sometimes it irritates me. Like how “hot and cold should not come out of the same mouth.” I’m going to rub up against that Word because it irritates my flesh. But the glory of God is that you become Who you hang out with. So, the more you hang out with God’s word, the more He rubs off on you, and eventually, you become like Him. How do we “be holy as He is holy?” How do we find that “peace that passes understanding” and that “joy unspeakable” that everyone talks about?
It’s attainable. She found joy, (wink, wink) and I found it too. But the road to getting there wasn’t anything like I expected. I didn’t find joy when my physical illnesses were miraculously healed. I didn’t find joy when my mental illnesses were miraculously healed. I didn’t find joy when my mind was delivered from a butt-load of oppressive thoughts. I feel joyful thanks to each of these amazing works of God, but that’s not where I found joy. I first found joy in the trials, then later it was just a bonus to find joy again in the miracles. Because joy is not a thing to attain, it’s a Person to get to know. Joy is the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Road to Joy Is the Road to Trust
And here’s what I realized. Jesus doesn’t jump out of a birthday box on the day of healing and say, “Ta da!! You’re healed so you can have joy now!” Nope.
He is also there when you are bawling on your bathroom floor and kicking in the wall because you feel like this illness is never going to end. He is also there when you want to just take your life because you feel like what’s the point of enduring one more day?
Joy comes and sits down with you in that moment. And you get to decide how you will answer one basic question.
“Do you trust Me?”
Your answer to that question is going to determine the level of joy in your life.
This transcends circumstances. Joy isn’t about circumstances. I’ve been through enough heartache and grief and depression to confirm that joy is not about circumstances.
Does that sound a little audacious to say such a thing? That the level of your joy is determined by how you answer one question? “Can you trust God?” Here’s my foundation for saying this. I have lived and experienced Romans 15:13 through my husband’s deployment, through heartache, through depression, and all kinds of trials. I clung to this Word. I rubbed up against it until it became a core part of my countenance and my identity:
“May the God of all hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 15:13).
Isn’t that what everyone is after? Some hope and joy and peace? People are trying through their workouts, their social feeds, their coffee addictions, their pictures of unicorns and rainbows. People are trying. We all want some hope and joy and peace. But I’m telling you. It was the trials and the sufferings that actually brought me to the place of joy and the Person of Joy. The key words for me in this verse are “AS YOU TRUST IN HIM.” Every time I write it out, I draw an arrow under those words, “as you trust” that points to “in Him.” As you trust in Him. That is the road to joy. It’s the road of trust.
So, let’s talk a little about that trust. It’s not a grit-your-teeth-and-bare-it type of thing here. It’s not a by-golly-I’m-gonna-do-this. Because see what it says, “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” That means it’s not on you. It’s His power that gets you to this place. Let’s rest in that right off the bat, shall we?
I believe the precursor to joy is vulnerability. And I believe that vulnerability and shame are in a war against each other within you. If shame wins, it squelches the joy. If vulnerability wins, trust grows, and as promised, the God of all hope fills you up with joy and peace as you trust in Him.
So, what does that look like in real life? It looks like being honest with God about what parts of His promises offend your way of thinking. That’s vulnerable. That’s an act of trusting God with your whole heart and where you’re really at, not pretending to be where you think you should be. It’s about being honest with God about your doubts. Did you know that telling God you have doubts is an act of faith? You demonstrate faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness to you to meet you in your place of doubt and to have to power to help you overcome it. That’s faith.
My challenge to you? This week, take note of where God’s truth irritates your flesh and your experiences. Take note and be honest with God about it. Quit pretending, stuffing, or saying, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” Be vulnerable and offer even those places of your heart and emotions to the Lord. Then, you have set your heart on the vulnerable path of trusting the Lord that will lead you to greater peace and joy.
Prayer: Lord God, help me be honest with you. Break down shame and facades that keep me from being vulnerable with you. Help me trust you more and fill me with all joy and all peace as I do so. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Wanna go a little deeper with this? I’m sharing a real-life, practical example of how this plays out. A pretty vulnerable story about how being honest with my self-worth led me down the path to Joy. I’d love for you to stop by www.SplatterJoy.com, my little online home. We can pick up the rest of the conversation there.
Thanks for having me pop in, Lauren. You are a joy to me!