It’s been a while! I haven’t disappeared off the face of the planet, but I will say, writing has been almost the last thing on my mind for a season. Honestly, it has been a challenging season. It was a time of distracting myself from the usual flow of ideas by reading or pretty much anything that would keep my attention and thoughts off the very things that were troubling me.
A season of distraction.
Distraction in the Word, distraction in prayer, the voice of the enemy distracting me with fiery dart thoughts of worry and the diversion of all the things the world throws our way; sickness, disasters, storms, and evil deeds. A medicine change aimed at improving health that actually for a season sent it spiraling.
As I began to say goodbye to 2018, things had started to look up, and I had been feeling better than I had in months. I actually had lots of energy and felt ten to fifteen years younger. Then it happened another set of circumstances. A hurting loved one; a death of a friend; family colds; a basement leak at two family members home; a roof leak from this year’s storms not covered by insurance; another medical issue; and another loved one in crisis. All were back to back.
Somewhere in those last six while looking back over the year, I distinctly heard the word joy ring out in my head. Now I have done a study on joy and the difference between joy and happiness in the past. Happiness is often, if not always determined by our – you got it; Circumstances.
Joy, however, can be found even when our circumstances are not the best. Joy comes from knowing who we are and whose we are. It comes from the blessings in our life. Sometimes the blessings and joy take a back seat to the immediate circumstances and imminent crisis that arise. Our perspective has a lot to do with what wins out. It is much easier to keep joy our focus when there are no problems or when they come along one or two at a time. Not so much when an avalanche of things come all within six months or a year. That is when we must work hard to keep our perspective right. God’s Word is full of promises, and they are sure and true. our focus should be on those promises. We also have warnings and if we are wise we will also heed those. Let’s look at John 16:33:
Jesus warned us, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
James, Jesus brother, warned us: “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:1-5 NASB
So, with new and greater determination, my word for 2019 is Joy. James clearly says it is possible to have joy in the midst of trials; suffering if you choose to. Fear and distraction are the enemies of joy. They come to steal, kill and destroy our joy. This year my plan is to pursue joy and with it peace. My goals: 1. Whatever happens, to ponder the better things; the blessings that are unshakeable and not let myself lose sight of them even when times get harried and sticky. 2. To do my best not to allow the enemy to steal that joy. Somehow, I’m sure it sounds easier than it is but with determination, it can be done, and I am betting that the year will be much more productive and fulfilling when it is all said and done.
May Grace, Peace, and Joy be yours!
Psalm 34:4-5 CSB
I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and rescued me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
Galatians 5:22-23 – NASB
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.
Psalm 5:11 – NASB
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
Psalm16:11 – NASB
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand, there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 59:16 – NASB
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.