Lately, I am finding myself in an all out battle to find joy. I am tired a lot of the time and I just don't seem to be applying the time needed to BE joyful.
This season of life for me brings with it a lot of physical and emotional work. Two of my five (ages 3 & 4) are right smack dab in the middle of "The NO Years", meaning that I feel like I say NO and am disciplining them 23 of the 24 hours in a day. My youngest babe is in a very physically demanding phase of life where she is held a lot to keep her out of things (like the Christmas tree!!). She is also still nursing, so I can't remember when the last time I slept a whole night was. My oldest two at nearly 7 & 6, have entered into a WHOLE OTHER REALM, where they have very tender feelings and it takes enormous amounts of time to rightly disciple them into self-control. Even though they require a good bit less disciplining, they require more explanation :)
All of this is doable with God right? I am getting through, but I am hiding my joy in it.
I did a short Bible study a few years ago on Thessalonians and there was one thing that stood out to me. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul comments on the fact that they "welcomed" joy despite the suffering they were enduring. That has always stuck with me that he used the word "welcome". He didn't say that they were bathed in joy or that the Lord showered them with joy as if it were a phenomenon of sorts. They welcomed the joy. It is an action that they did. They actively sought and invited in the joy that was theirs. The use of this word causes me to picture joy just standing at the door to the home and the people opening the door and saying, "Come on In!" (I realize that is a little elementary of an illustration, but bare with me as I have been planning 1st grade lesson plans all day). The Thessalonians didn't hide from their joy behind the persecution and hardships they were enduring.
The significance for me is that joy is part of our lives as Christians. Having been given the gift of forgiveness and redemption through the precious and sinless blood of Christ, we HAVE joy. Often times, I hide it away in the business or chaotic seasons of my life and I look upward with hands wringing, wondering when the Lord will rain upon me the joy that I "soooo deserve".(that word is a curse word in our home, BTW).) It is a pitiful thing. The Thessalonians were being persecuted for their faith (like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are all over the world currently) and yet they welcomed the joy into their lives. I am having a hectic and busy life, chock-full of God's favored blessing and yet I am still looking for my joy. (?!?!?!?!?!)
This has to be my mission!!! I need to set out to welcome joy into my life again. It is there. I don't have to look farther than to my salvation to find a reason to be joyful. One step past that is the fact that I have a Godly husband and five great kids to care for. This sounds so easy, yet I struggle so much with this.
I think that part of it is that I have come to expect hardship. Instead of living free and being joyful for each new morning's oxygen, I have come to expect the trials that come into my life. I have taken on a practice of being "prepared" for the struggles, because somehow I have convinced myself that I am being proactive. Wanna know a secret? Anticipating hardship seems to have the opposite reaction than what one might think it would. Instead of being READY to handle them, it makes me hardened and burdened by them 100% of the time. I stop living in the joy that was given to me on the cross. This is what I have done and what I need to correct in my life.
So, I am off now to open the door of my heart to the joy that was given me. Pray for me if you think about me. Change is hard, but I know that it will have a ripple effect in my life and I will be surprised at how life will look from the other side.