J is for Joy (Counting My Blessings 10/26)

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A pauper at a banquet…
A penniless man at feast…
This is who I was for what seemed like a lifetime.
When your head feels weighed down by sorrow and brokenness, it can seem impossible to even think of being able to look up and see the potential of anything but more sorrow…more brokenness…more pain.
I am so grateful that perception doesn’t always equal reality.
Behind the scenes…beneath the surface…God was working in me. He was restoring unto me the joy of my salvation. He was renewing within me a willingness to accept His strength…His joy.

Perception doesn’t equal reality

That is a crucial point…a vital understanding…a freeing philosophy. If I believe that what I see at any given moment is all that there is, then I will be fooled in the best of times and fouled in the worst. The surface is beguiling and befuddling…but it’s only the surface. And I’m eternally grateful for that.

God is so incredibly faithful. His provision…His mercy…His strength…HIS JOY…they don’t fail. They don’t fall away. They truly…truly…don’t disappoint. Now, I can set my sights on some specific thing and I may convince myself that all happiness and joy hinge on that thing coming to pass and, in the process, dash my happiness on the rocks of disillusion. But the things that matter are the things that have lasting substance.

Two years ago, I set my sights on the restoration of my marriage. I prayed for it and asked my closest friends and family to pray for it as well. For reasons I can’t fully know, God chose to allow the relationship to go away. I felt so destroyed at first, but I chose to trust that God has my best interests in mind…and joy began to come back to me.

Actually, joy never left…I simply couldn’t see it for awhile.

Now that I am two years post-separation and a few months post-divorce, I have no problem seeing God’s hand in carrying me through…in providing for me all that I needed. It gives me the strength to recognize that He will give me all that I truly need in the future as well.

The photo that begins this post is one of Sophie from several years ago. August 20, 2008, to be exact. Sophie was almost 7, my marriage was just over 16 years old, and life was very different than it is today. I love the look of total elation on Sophie’s face…complete joy with no worries. She and I had no notion of what was in store for our family in the next three years…no shadow of concern for the dark things ahead. We were in the moment…pleased with life…secure and satisfied.

That is what joy does for us…it reminds us of our security and it satisfies us in the strength of a Creator who has it all under control. That is the kind of joy that I want to experience and remember in every season. Not a blind joy that ignores reality…but, rather, a true joy that recognizes the reality that God is strong enough and loving enough to redeem the broken, bind up the bruised, carry the disheartened, and breathe perfect Life into lungs that have all but expired.

MY PRAYER:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and carrying me and surprising me with Your perfect Joy. There have been so many moments in the past couple of years when I couldn’t see even the chance of feeling joy again, but you never failed me. Please allow me to rejoice in You through every season, every event of my life. Remind me in dry seasons, and humble me in the midst of riches. You are my joy, and Your joy will forever be my strength.

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