Will God leave me alone to screw up my life?

I’ve never been very good at making decisions. Is it a fear of missing out? As I think about standing in front of restaurant menu board it is not that I cannot decide between two things that I love. Rather, I know its possible that I would make a decision, receive my compensation, and be disappointed. Now I am stuck with it because this was what I paid for. That greasy burger ended up making me feel nauseous, but that was the consequence of my decision. I picked wrong. But how would I have known otherwise?

My mom came to me one night when my parents were divorcing, telling me that I had to decide who to live with. “I don’t want to decide,” I said in tears as an 11 year old. I went with whatever made everyone else happy. My preference, which was to have them not divorce, was not an option.

While burgers and parents are two completely different types of choices, there are choices we are asked to make in life and the consequences of those choices can be illusive. We can seek the Lord, He can give us peace, transform our minds, lead us on the narrow path, but we can also be convinced that God is leading us somewhere he might not be (or maybe that’s apart of his sovereignty too… but a conversation for a different time). It may end us up somewhere we consider “not good.”

God, will you leave me alone to screw up my life? My mind and heart ponder this question. In it is woven doubt and pain, but also a deep curiosity. So I googled “verses about God not leaving us alone to screw up our lives” and I came across a story of a man who, potentially outside of wisdom, became convinced that God was leading him (a pastor) to move to a city to start a new church. (Ironic for me to read this.) He didn’t have a job prospect lined up or a house or really much of a plan, and he uprooted his family including small children only to end up a year later in line at a homeless shelter waiting with others for jobs to be handed out to earn some money to put food on the table. “How did I end up here?” he asked himself.

Well, shit.

I don’t entirely remember his consolation for his experiences. Something from Job, Psalms, and probably Romans.

I asked my roommates a few weekends ago, “Do you guys know or can you think of any verses that have to do with God and him not leaving us alone to screw up our lives?” One shared “God works all things out for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.” She admitted it was trite, but I understood the sentiment. God works all things for good. Screw ups and bad decisions can be made for good. OK… but it still didn’t bring me consolation.

A week later I was reading Psalms. I’ve been reading Psalms from the beginning for several weeks now and got tired/bored so I flipped to the end and started reading them backwards… strange, I know. But I think God led me to a verse that we are all familiar with, but it stood out to me in this context.

Psalm 139:7-12 (by David)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

God, will you leave me ALONE to screw up my life? Well, no. There is no place on the entire earth, that though it may seem like it’s covered in darkness, will be dark to God. Darkness is not dark to God. There is no place on earth I can go, no darkness I think I could hide in, there is no grave or place in the sky, there is no place that I could choose to settle where his hand, love, guidance, providence, and grace cannot find me.

So screw up my life?… maybe. Make a decision that ends in pain?…possibly. Become convinced God wants me to do something that might be contrary to biblical wisdom?… I could. But does that remove me from God’s favor or keep him from helping me or guiding me? No, he is ever as close in my successes as in my failures. If I say “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me.” He says, “The darkness is not dark to me, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to me.” I could settle on the far side of the sea, but still he will never leave me nor forsake me. Even there, His hand will guide me.

And there are plenty of verses about God leading us and lighting the path for our feet. He does guide us. So without negating those truths, I end in the comfort that I can feel secure in the Lord with my decisions even if I make the “wrong” ones because he will continue to be there and uphold me with his right hand. And then it’s humbling because I realize I don’t even really deserve that, but his promised presence is his unmerited favor possible through Christ.

And for that I am grateful.

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Child of Divorce: Do Not Fear

I came across this article today.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/child-of-divorce-do-not-fear-marriage

My parents are divorced so it relates in that way, but most of this I hear ALL the time so I begin scrolling past all the “generic” truths about how I’m not bound to repeat the past, I’m free from generational sin, and blah blah blah (I’m being kind of dramatic), but then I got to the golden nugget of truth that God has really been rewiring in my brain these last 4 weeks: no matter how much healing I get, or truth I get, or wisdom I store up (which is good to do) – it does not protect me from suffering. There is no guarantee for me (or any of us) to walk into situations or circumstances (like marriage, parenting, or any other ministry) and avoid walking roads of suffering (including divorce). In fact Jesus promises that we will have MUCH trouble in this life. We are broken people.

I think more and more everyday God is helping me to let go of my fear of pain and suffering and helping me to walk knowing He is my confidence!

I am afraid of marriage. I think it sounds pretty awful. I think chaining yourself to someone and giving them the opportunity and power to ravage you makes me want to huddle in a ball in a dark corner of my heart. But, I also have a deep seeded desire and a great curiosity to discover what love and life is like in marriage. I want to understand Gods love more in that context, and I believe that is a righteous desire he has given me. If he didn’t, my instinct because of my fears would be to just sign the figurative contract to be single. For me I tend to think that no, it’s not so bad to never have loved at all than to have lost. Sorry Lord Tennyson.

So maybe God will lead me into marriage someday, maybe he won’t; but my spirit is becoming more and more convinced that I can’t say no simply out of fear of pain. And saying yes, for me, will mean yes despite or in light of the pain. Which will be a powerful commitment for me. I am not unaware of the potential suffering in store, I am more unaware of the potential blessings in store.

A dear sister (Christie) told me a few days ago, after a sermon on gender, marriage, and roles at a sister church we were visiting; that God gives us the strength in the times of suffering. God does not give us the strength to worry when it hasn’t yet arrived, but he offers us his confidence to be willing to be vulnerable.

So child of divorce (or any other circumstance), you do not have to fear marriage. Yes, but I may have titled the article: you don’t have to fear God leaving you in suffering though your heart and flesh fail or the other heart and flesh fails that you’ve bound yourself to. He, the Lord, is our strength, our confidence, our portion.

Forever.

This is Redemption

Breathe. Open the door. Take a step in. You recognize this place, but the memories are vacant like a moving box with the word “childhood” written on the flap in permanent marker with nothing inside. Maybe you can remember running down the stairs to the sunday school rooms or bobbing for apples out on the lawn, but besides the absent memories what this place really represents is the years of hurt and brokenness. The reminder of all the pain that has happened since you last stepped in these halls. The people? They are all different. The grown up children? They have all moved away. The pastor? You’ve never seen him before in your life.

We slide in the back row. My mom, me, and my brother. Why he started to go back to this church a month ago I have yet to understand entirely, but I have a guess that maybe we are all seeking the same healing from the pain that started all those years ago after leaving this place. There’s been a stirring of his heart, I reckon. A longing to understand, to make things right.  Why now? I wasn’t really sure until we prayed together at the end.

The pastor, after a challenging message about being on mission and sharing the truth of Christ’s saving of our souls, asked us to gather with the people around us and lift up our joys and requests to God. We looked at each other knowing we aught to put our heads together, but there was a sense of awkwardness. How do we do this? We’ve never done this before or at least not in 17 years.  

“Well…” he finally said hesitantly; so the three of us squished together as my brother gathered us under his arm like little chicks and began to pray. He told God how thankful he was for the life he’s given him, for keeping our dad alive after his recent heart attack, for his two sons and his wife, but mostly for forgiveness and for being able to be a new person in Christ, to be able to let go of the past, to have a new identity. As he prayed all I could think about was how God has changed us all. 5 years ago, my mom wasn’t a Christian, my brother didn’t think the bible had much merit, and I was still walking around withholding forgiveness from him for the years of sexual abuse. I was withholding the gospel from him. As a child I walked around claiming to be a follower of Jesus, but the only gospel message I was communicating to him was that God doesn’t actually forgive our sins.

As a child I walked around claiming to be a follower of Jesus, but the only gospel message I was communicating to him was that God doesn’t actually forgive our sins.

But I forgave him by God’s strength and mercy, and hardly with words as I couldn’t bare any more of a conversation than a cross with the words “forgive” on it that I gave him for christmas once. It was more so in my actions as allowed myself to trust him, hug him, spend time with him; to live like I’d forgiven him. I could trust him because he had changed and more importantly he could trust me and the truth I was sharing because I had changed too.

Then I thought about how my mom has grown as a disciple of Christ and how her change has influenced him. She’s growing to have a gentler, quieter spirit that understands her desperate need for forgiveness and to trust in the Lord alone. I can only imagine how seeing her growth has influenced my brother’s faith. I’ve only heard through the snippets of conversations they’ve had, but they too have shared forgiveness for one another.

As she started to pray, now almost distracted by the moment God was giving me that I hardly remember what she was praying, all I could think of what the years of hate and blame I held in my heart for her, the pain of life, the walls in my heart, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the loss of Jeff, the conversion of her soul, the months of singing praise together at church, the conversations of forgiveness, the bible studies, the renewing of our minds, and the peace in my soul…

Here we are. The three of us. Tossed violently by the waves of life, forsaking even our faith. Wayward brides who were dumping out the boxes of memories; trying to fill it instead with what we thought would satisfy, but still coming up empty. We kept finding the memories in our mailboxes year after year, month after month, day after day; haunting us all. We were even drowning for a while looking for oxygen to breathe, looking for someone to save us.

But God, in his mercy, saw it fit to have “…Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

God had a plan to use my hard heart and choices of sin to work back around to teach me grace and obedience that impacts not only me, but shares Christ’s love for his children specifically my brother and mother.

All I can say now is that it works! It really does. He does work all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his great purpose. His promises are true, even when they don’t feel like it before it comes to fruition.

And it’s not over yet, its really just beginning, but standing there together in the arms of my brother and mother, I understand…

This is redemption. 

New Foundations

For my faithful readers, you have been following a roller coaster ride on the relationship with my mom. I started this blog around 2011…. I think. (Just did a quick archive check… yup, November of 2011)

To do a quick recap (and for anyone that may be stumbling across this for the first time)… at that point in my life I was really struggling with a lot of anger towards her, a lot of temptation to blame her, and a stone cold heart. She’d say mean things to me, blame me for things, tell me I’m wasting time at church; I’d lie about how much I loved her and treated her like a jerk. But, at that time God was really knocking hard at my stone heart, knocking down walls and shining light into deep, dark infected places. The deconstruction began followed by this long, slow rebuilding of a relationship. The ministry of reconciliation that God has called us to mainly comes in sharing the gospel (reconciliation with Him, through faith in Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection), but I believe it carries out in our relationships with one another. Specifically, I believe God has called ME to be reconciled to MY MOM. (2 Cor 5:11-21, Rom 12:18)

I was not convinced she was a believer at that time in 2011. It wasn’t until her boyfriend who’d been living with us for five years was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and died a month later. It was during that time that the gospel became the most important truth, especially for Jeff. The need for Jeff to believe it allowed us to have conversations that resulted in her accepting, believing, and affirming that the Lord Jesus is her Savior and she will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

After that, everything changed. But, the one thing that was different was I found myself wishing she wasn’t saved so she would suffer for the things I’ve suffered through. Harsh, right?  I think Jonah probably felt similar, but I am ashamed…

So it was clear to me by my attitude that there was a lot of work to do in my heart. So God continued to deconstruct and renovate my heart like the good carpenter he is. This covers the last two years. There’s high points and low points, but it wasn’t until this last Christmas Break that I reached the lowest point and considered giving up on the relationship all together. “I’m done! This woman is infuriating!” I told the Lord on my 5 hour drive home.

I was driving back to Iowa to a conference in Des Moines called “Faithwalkers” where we gather and hear teachings and encouragement from our sister churches all over the midwestern USA. God always has a way of using that time to redirect my life. A pastor of ours shared about trials and how the key to overcoming trials isn’t their finish, but in our endurance. That to endure is God’s prime objective. (Rom 5:3, Heb 10:36, James 1:2-3, Col 1:9-11) If we don’t… what does that say of our faith? So I was encouraged as it says in Colossians to pray this:

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

May you be strengthened with power… so that you may have great endurance and patience…

I was really struck by that and considered that maybe God wasn’t calling me to give up, maybe this was a lowest of the low points. Maybe God is calling me to endure through the highs and lows of this journey to reconciliation. What I needed was to pray to persevere! God put it on my heart to do a little book study with my mom via the phone, so I mailed her some materials (because at this point I was all too frustrated to talk with her on the phone) and I thought if any thing could help this relationship, surely it was God’s word.

I thought Maybe I can’t trust her yet, and that’s ok. I can rest in the safety of God’s word. 

So each week (it’s been 3 now) we call each other on the phone and for 2 hours or so we study through the gospel answering questions about how Jesus claimed to be God and how we can have assurance for eternal life through faith in the blood of Jesus. There’s questions at the end that ask you to reflect on what you just read and there’s nothing sweeter than hearing my mom say “I’m so grateful for God’s mercy and I’m so glad I know I have eternal life because of Jesus.”

This breaks my heart of stone.

In all of my attempts of reconciliation, I never once realized how what we really needed wasn’t heart to hearts of disclosing past wounds (though there is time for that) or taking unsafe chances of sharing my life with her. What we need is a new foundation built up from the truth of the gospel. It’s there I find courage to confess my sins, to share how the truth impacts my life, to open up about who I am. Its there I build trust with a women who has the Holy Spirit living and active inside of her. It’s possible all of my attempts that seemed more harmful than good to reconcile weren’t useless, but it’s possible (and I pray so much for) that rebuilding our relationship on the word through studying it together will yield greater fruit than my plans to relive and bring up the past ever could have. I don’t mean to say there aren’t things we need to talk about or that everything is forgotten, but rather to allow time for God to knit our hearts together and to allow His word and His timing to reconcile our relationship. By having a relationship built on the trust of the Lord and His word, it makes it possible to talk about past hurts and pains in light of the gospel. It may be that the most glorious thing God will do with my life is to reconcile my relationship between me and my mom. And I pray for that. I’ve always prayed for that… that I would see His glory.

And a glorious thing it will be. Please pray for me. I am encouraged at what God has done in 3 weeks, but I need to depend on the Lord for strength and love and I can’t do it alone. Thank you!

In His love,
Teresa

 

Anger Denatured into Gratitude

A once ridiculing, anxious soul is metamorphosing into unconditional gentleness. Where once was fear now is filled with peace and where once was guilt is now filled with hope.

My mother.

Unfortunately, in comparison to me- the steps I’d thought I’d taken to overcome bitterness and anger are now so clear against her grace filled love. My mom is transforming and I stopped somewhere a long the way. Or maybe I took a pause to clean out some old dusty cupboards of pain.


Being a child with divorced parents isn’t a whole ton of fun. It creates some sort of childhood trauma that manages to covertly infect most neural pathways to your mind and heart. Oh, memories! I sigh- and the purposely forgotten memories! And holidays- what a wonderful time to remember how broken your family is! This is not a rant, I promise. 

Through one recent conversation or another I found myself angry. It was something to do with plans and what dinner was at who’s house and why it was so unfair the kids had to go the other parents instead of coming to some Aunt’s house. Some sort of blame was exchanged…blah, blah, blah. I ended up angry towards my mom and then sort of stopped communicating, and really, what led up to that isn’t the important part, but I was angry and I left angry back to Iowa.

Along the 5 hour drive I meditated long and hard on my anger. At first I didn’t understand why, I just was, you know? So I just let myself be angry and sooner or later a cry for justice was to be found.

“It’s not fair!” I found myself exclaiming. There was a huge injustice done to me with my parents separating: I didn’t ask for it, I couldn’t do anything to stop it, and yet somehow I was in the middle of broken promises and lonely relationships. “What about justice?”

I let myself call out the injustice that had happened. It’s like there’s this imaginary pressure to not be impacted by divorce, like, it happens all the time or it’s not so bad or something. So all along the way of the last 10 years I’m bottling up this anger and sense of injustice inside, wanting to expressing it, but not knowing really what it is that I wanted to express. Yet I was letting it seep out every time my mom asked me when my dad is having thanksgiving or when I’m going over to his house.

Kind of ridiculous if you ask me now. Especially since she’s like this sweet lady who asks so prudently. Then I’m this ravenous wolf who just got punched on a wound.

So here I am in the car, “What about justice?” I say (seemingly to God) Of course, being God, he could almost laugh. Who could have a better understanding of unfair suffering than God? Jesus on the cross, anyone?

He doesn’t though- laugh, I mean. He comforts me by reminding me He knows about the injustice. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not acceptable. He hates divorce! (Malachi 2:16)

Who could have a better understanding of unfair suffering than God?

And then of course, people kept sharing verses and articles on Facebook about unjust suffering and forgiveness…etc….. you know how that happens…

Verses like 1 Peter 2:19-25

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.

and 1 Peter 3:9

 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Genesis 50:19-20

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

And then I almost felt the Spirit asking me “What kind of justice would you like?”

Well… I don’t know I guess, I thought, it’s not like I want them punished (they believe in Jesus and his forgiveness and are in enough of their own pain) and in all actuality having them back together probably wouldn’t make anything much better either…. I guess I just wanted someone to hear me say it wasn’t fair. 

So I emailed my mom and apologized and helped her understand why I was so angry all the time. She apologized for her part, I apologized for mine and we both agreed to work towards forgiveness. I thanked her profusely for her grace as she is always so kind to me when I am unkind. She doesn’t mind the hits because she loves me so much and that’s pretty amazing.

That was all a month ago. On the drive back home for Thanksgiving today I asked myself what kind of attitude I was going to have this time. I prayed for a gentle one and I realized anything other than that would be a cry for justice. Then I asked myself, “How long will you cry out? How many do you need to hear you say it? Will it ever be enough?”

You’ve said it. It’s been heard. By God, by your mom, and by a lot of others. It’s been taken care of and it’s time to move on now. It’s time to be grateful for what you do have (believing parents, a home, food, people who love you, clothes, a job, income, school, air to breathe) and to be content with the portion God has given you. It’s time to stop looking at your circumstances with a microscope….

It’s time to be thankful. And so I shall!

Happy Thanksgiving! May God help you understand what good He is doing through your unjust suffering and unfortunate circumstances.

“Understanding unjust suffering is about not getting God to change your circumstances but beginning to understand how your circumstances are a part of His divine plan and you responding to that plan.”              Overcoming Unjust Suffering, Living on The Edge

 

The pursuit of Joy. Day 6

The Psalms: the last installment

Distant songs of joy

  1. We can proclaim the satisfying pleasure we find in God through jubilant song and shouts of victory, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and horns, with dancing. Not only that, but the rivers will clap and the mountains will sing because God has done marvelous things like revealing and clothing us with his salvation. God’s right hand has done mighty things!  (Psalm 98, 107, 132, 118, 149)
  2. God’s law is our joy (119:111)

    “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”

  3. To be liberated from slavery is joy and the cause of it, which God has given us and why we sing songs of joy to him. (105, 126:2)

    When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

  4. In times of sorrow, songs of joy are distant, but we yearn to sing them once again. (Psalm 137)

    “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? If I forget you Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”

I wish I sang songs of joy more often for the salvation God has given me, for the freedom he has liberated me to in Christ. I wish I was so moved that I might praise God with dancing and instrument, with laughter and joy. There are times when I forget that I have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord and that he is ever with me!

But I can imagine the sorrow the nation of Israel felt in exile, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land,” they said as they hung up their harps.

Unit next time…

The pursuit of Joy. Day 5

The Psalms

“Satisfy us with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy”

1. Mountains and trees sing and shout for joy (if you can believe it). They declare the pleasure and delight of God by displaying his splendor, his greatness, and his power. (89:12, 96:12)

2. When God helps us triumph over our enemies, we shout and sing for joy in the work he’s done on our behalf. Not only in war, but in his unfailing compassion and grace after we act unrighteously or rebelliously. It is by his deeds and nature we are made glad. (66:1, 67:4, 71:24, 81:1, 92:4)

3. Comfort and consolation during grief and anxiety from God brings us joy because of the truth of his sovereignty in trials. (94:19)

4. We can call each other to sing for joy over the wonderful things God has done. (95:1)

5. And yet again it is God who is our source of joy and we ask him to satisfy us in our time of need and plenty. That satisfaction in his unfailing love (who he is and what he’s given us) is what gives us that fulfilling and satisfactory joy for all of our days. (86:4, 90:14, 92:4)

Biblical Joy: to be satisfied and find pleasure in who God is and what He has given us- D.A. Carson.  This is why the pursuit of Joy is really the pursuit of God and glorifying Him for all that He is and does with all that we are and  do.  

Until next time :)

In the pursuit of Joy. Day 4

What is stealing my joy?

I finally found a definition of joy I agreed with from D.A Carson who described joy as being satisfied and finding pleasure in God and what he’s given us. However, he followed up his definition with something that was really impactful for me: we are grateful for the things that give us joy, but when we don’t have joy its because there’s something that God has given us in our lives or something about who is that we are not grateful for.

So why is that so different? Well instead of forcing myself to consider all the things in life I’m grateful for and trying to choose to be happy and joyful by focusing on those things (like Philippians 4:8 though valuable), I instead ask myself the question: What is it that God has given me in my life that I am ungrateful for?

Oh. I see. Now it’s really about the fact that I’m not trusting His plan with that situation in my life. Or whatever it is. It sucks and the great thing about God is that you can tell him that! You can tell him how much pain you feel. And you can tell him how you don’t understand. And you can ask him for the strength to get through it. And it’s quite possible that only He can provide that joy in that time, and so we ask him for joy in the unpleasant circumstances.

Is it possible that God works all things for the good of those who love him? Is it possible God cares truly about me experiencing His utter and complete goodness? I think so. I know so. This I know because berries taste sweet and because a child’s laughter fills my heart and because music connects dots in my soul and these things have nothing to do with whether I have money or was born into a “good” family. There’s non-circumstantial goodness out there waiting to give God the glory. This I know also because God’s good book says not only that God works all things out for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) or that he desires to give his children good gifts (Matthew 7:11) but that He hears our prayers, forgives our overwhelming sins, fills us with good things from His house, answers us with awesome deeds, is our Savior and the hope of all of the ends of the earth, he formed the entire world including the mountains and the roaring seas, he waters the land and cares for it, he gives us delicious food and all of this causes us to be satisfied and find pleasure in our great wonderful God and even creation itself shouts for joy and sings (Psalm 65).

Until next time.

In the Pursuit of Joy. Day 3

The Psalms

“You have filled my heart with Joy”

1. The joy that God fills our heart with is greater than the joy that success brings to godless people living for the riches of this world. (Psalm 4:7)

2. When we follow God’s commands, it gives our hearts greater joy than when we sin, though it seems the opposite in the moment. If we hate wickedness and love righteousness, God will give us joy. (Psalm 19:8, 45:7)

3. There are times when we do not have joy and our soul is downcast. It takes questioning and searching and pleading to put our hope in God in those times, but he turns our wailing into dancing. (Psalm 42:4, 30:11)

4. When attacked by our enemies if we take refuge is God we will have joy, and of course in victory we will also have joy that leads to singing and praise to God who gives us these victories. He is our strength and shield. We trust him and he helps up and this makes our heart leap for joy. (Psalm 5:11, 21:1, 27:6, 28:7)

5. When those we love are vindicated, when they succeed against their enemies, we are filled with joy and give God the glory. (Psalm 35:27)

6. God fills our hearts with joy in his presence. He is our joy. (Psalm 4:7, 16:11, 21:6, 30:11, 43:4)

In the pursuit of Joy. Day 2

Continuing my study of joy (including the book of Job):

1. We can encourage others to stop grieving and have joy when circumstances have changed. If I was grieving because I wanted to be married and then got married, it wouldn’t be necessary to still grieve. Or grieving that you don’t have access to God’s word in your language would be silly to do if someone gave you God’s word in your language. Rather, we rejoice over things once grieved for. (Nehemiah 8:10,12,17)

2. We can have joy when we have victory over our enemies, though it was a weighty trial before; joy that is so full, we celebrate year after year to remember and it even compels us to give gifts to our friends and the poor (sounds like Christmas, but actually refers to Purim). (Ester 8:15-17, 9:17-19, 9:22)

3. Pain longs to be validated and find company that affirms, not accuses. Validation and affirmation give us a glimmer of joy in unrelenting pain to know someone stays with us in our misery and even our doubt towards God himself. (Job 3:7, 6:10, 9:25, 10:20)

4. Seeing God’s face and his work causes us (and the angels) to shout for joy! (Job 33:26, 38:7)

5. God gives us great joy. Yet again, it is He who provides. (Nehemiah 12:43, Job 8:21)