I am convinced there is a challenge. It is on my behalf. It is from two opposing worlds. It isn’t for my life; no, the enemy has given up on that. My life is spoken, fought and paid for. This challenge isn’t so obvious…it is for my joy.
I lose my joy when I begin to question the devotion that already exists within my heart. I become anxious, which grows and expands until my joy has fallen off the edge. I slow down, and weariness sets in. I am consumed with the feeling that I’m never going to get there – like there is this line I just can’t seem to cross.
Remember when we would play tag as kids and we would always have this designated safe zone? And as soon as we were touching it, nothing could get us. Suddenly, an invisi-shield wrapped around us. That is what I am trying to get to. Oh woe is me; I am undone. My soul is downcast and that is one more niche for the enemy. I have offered up my joy, and I have clothed myself in shame, regret, reproach, and fatigue.
Nothing is clear because all I can see is how I am failing or hurting. But, I’m stepping out. I am stepping out of this stronghold. It is my decision to abide in the Lord’s joy. It is not contingent on my circumstances. I no longer want to live with joy coming and going as it has. We need it all the time.
When we, as the church, are called to be in that path of the brokenhearted and oppressed, when we are called to reciprocate with love and mercy, when we are called to care for the forgotten, when we are called to not be desensitized to the depravity that has shaken our people, when we are called to live with our hands and hearts open…we need this joy the Lord offers. We cannot push it aside! How will we continue to do what is asked of us?
Our hearts cannot be open to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters when they are already carrying the deadweight of our shame and sorrow. We don’t need to wait around for circumstances to be joyful. Our hope and joy cannot be based on circumstances and what the Lord can produce for us.
The Lord is where our joy should come from. He is enough to cause us to shout for joy and fall face down. He is who He is no matter where we are. And praise God for that. We praise Him and take joy in His glory, just as He takes delight in who we are.
“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:27 (NIV)
“My Father, I have been convinced of a lie by our enemy! That you would ever create a kingdom where your people could be slowed down or distracted by mere circumstances is absurd! The joy You offer to us is infinite, unbiased, free and all consuming. I realize now I cannot hold both anxiousness and joy. I must run from one to fully embrace the other. Lord, thank You for bringing me to this point of surrendering the thought that joy is unimportant and contingent. Your Word says that our joy in You is our strength— and that is what I will cling to, especially in times of…”