This month of May — of springtime and blooms, of rain and fresh growth — we’ll focus on JOY here on my blog.
Joy, at times, comes naturally . . . instinctively. Smiles and laughter bubble up from somewhere inside us — from a spring of deep joy.
At other times, joy requires effort. The spring has run dry. Joy seems absent — like it fled away and is long gone. When life hurts, joy is not easy.
My new Flourishing Faith book Restore Your Joy looks closely at what Scripture says about joy: how it’s different than happiness, how it’s something we chose, how it’s something we can cultivate and grow. Joy, in fact, can supernaturally defy our bleak circumstances.
Do you long for greater joy? For deeper joy? For joy to be a characteristic of who you are, flowing from your life in Christ? Then join in the conversation this month. And let’s begin with a short excerpt from Restore Your Joy that reflects on one of the most preposterous passages of Scripture . . .
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“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
What?! Is James urging believers to live in a Christian la-la-land that’s out of touch with reality or that denies our actual human experience of pain and hurt?
A belief that God is sovereign, God is in control, and God is love enables the Christian to find light in darkness, joy in sadness, and hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.
“Only love empowers the leap in trust, the courage to risk everything on Jesus, the readiness to move into the darkness guided only by a pillar of fire,” wrote Brennan Manning. “The love of Christ inspires trust to thank God for the nagging headache, the arthritis that is so painful, the spiritual darkness that envelops us.”
When we’re in the headache or the pain or enveloped by darkness, our trust may be reduced to a very simple confidence. Julian of Norwich describes how she turned to God in a period of confusion; as she prayed, she sensed Jesus saying to her: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Ultimately this is our confidence: No matter what happens, in Jesus, all shall be well.
. . . Trust in God’s sovereignty and obedience to God’s leading ultimately enable us to practice acceptance. To look at our lives—to see all the good and bad, all the dreams realized and hopes dashed—and to say I accept the hand you’ve dealt me, God, and I will be content.
This is the secret of the truly joyful Christian: accepting life’s circumstances (rather than worrying about them, resisting them, or resenting them) and finding strength to face them all through a joy-filled inner life with God.
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How is God inviting you into deeper trust? Into acceptance? How will this trust and acceptance enable you to live in greater joy and contentment?