Take Joy!

Dear Ones,

‘Tis the season of joy, right? Truthfully, every season should be our season of joy, not just the season where gifts abound and Christmas music plays 24 hours a day on our local radio stations. This is not to say, of course, that we don’t have a special reason to be joyous. After all, the birth of Christ is ultimately our most precious reason to rejoice! But, my point in this week’s blog is that during this “joyous” season, so many struggle with loneliness or isolation or disappointment or sadness. I was contemplating this and began to wonder why. Is it that they feel there are so many expectations that come with this season, and they cannot live up to others expectations? Is it that the season of frivolity and energy and rejoicing highlights contrasting remembrances of broken relationships with family or friends, feelings of loss or inadequacy in not being able to “give” all the gifts, memories of lost loved ones, or feelings of lack? Whatever the reason, the truth is we all experience pain in our lives, and for some the holidays seem to compound that pain.

So, as I talked to the Lord about all of this, He spoke to my spirit and said (in paraphrase), “I am the only One Who will not disappoint or bring pain! This world is imperfect, as are you, and as hard as you try, you will at some point disappoint others, and as hard as others try, they will at some point disappoint you. People will disappoint and events and seasons will disappoint, but I am not just a person, and I am not just a season. I am your true, heavenly Father, and my love for you will always surmount every pain!” Then the Lord took me back to a season/event in my life that produced great pain and disappointment, and He reminded me what He told me to do. He said, “Don’t lose your joy!” Of course, our human question is, “How can I not lose my joy when this pain is confronting me at every moment, when I feel like a tidal wave of disappointment is drowning out every glimpse of the sun/Son?” Scripture tells us, “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Neh. 8:10). How can that be true? It is true because everything on this earth is temporary, even every earthly joy, but God is forever – forever true, forever faithful, forever loving, forever delivering, forever healing, forever providing, forever forgiving – forever what you need Him to be. When we set our hope in Him and not in the things and people and events of this earth, we set our hope in something eternal – a strong, immovable, unending, all-knowing, unchanging HOPE. Our hope and our joy is in Him!

Do you know that when you may feel sad at the thought that you have disappointed others, God is never disappointed in you? Another person may be disappointed in you, but God will never be disappointed in you. Think about that. You cannot disappoint God! He knows you are imperfect, and even though He may not agree with some of your choices, He loves you the same. His will is always to stay in fellowship with you no matter what you do. Do you know if others disappoint you, God is never disappointed in them either? Yes, He cares about your hurt, but He also cares about them just as much. God is always looking at the end, the resolution, the redemption, the reconciliation of every situation. That redemption will always bring about the best in every person’s life, even in the lives of those who have hurt you. That’s why we need to forgive as He forgives. We need to forgive ourselves, and we need to forgive others. Forgiveness in itself brings joy! It releases us from the box that expectations create.
Another way to restore our joy is to remember all the goodness in our lives. Focusing on the pain produces pain. This is not to say that we should not deal with the root of the pain, but lifting our eyes and our hearts out of and above the pain lets the light in. Look up and see all the goodness God has provided for you. I find that doing something that you know will bless another person releases joy in my own life. God created us to bless others. Blessing someone else pours the oil of joy into our own spirits! Worship brings true joy. Just contemplating God and all He is and all He does for us is worship. Singing praises to Him is worship. There are so many forms of worship – dancing to Him, using your gifts for Him, pouring out your heart of thanksgiving to Him. Worship releases our spirits from the confines of this natural world. Our spirits are eternal and are joined to Him. When we worship, we shake off the limits of all that this natural world tries to put on us and our spirits are released to join and commune with His. We become boundless, free from the fetters of the natural. We join the chorus of the supernatural. We become limitless as He is limitless; we shake off the impossible and receive endless possibility; we are filled with the love and hope and true joy of our dear Savior!

All of these things release our spirits to be in true communion with God, the true source of love and joy and peace! Remember, God tells us repeatedly in the Scripture that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Take your joy in Him, and your spirit cannot and will not cling to the disappointments of this earth! You will find your true joy!

Pastor Lisa Marie