I find it amazing to realize that God has been preparing me for another season of hardship. My close friends know that I have been through a series of difficult seasons for about the past 4 years or so. And that seems to only be continuing now. But He has been teaching me about JOY.
I got a phone call from dad on Friday after mom had several surgeries that were non-cancer related – except of course the removal of mom’
port because the scans came back completely clear in January.
dad – “The doctor found more cancer.”
me – “what? are you serious? it can’t be back.”
dad – “the doctor was fixing mom’s hernia and found something suspicious. he sent it to pathology. the cancer is back.”
The cancer wasn’t supposed to be there.
The news is devastating. This means more rounds of awful medicines and awful consequences.
It’s unexpected news that takes the wind right out of you. It’s hard not to wonder “what if?” It’s hard not to question God and his faithfulness.
Which brings me to how God has been preparing me to know JOY.
I’ve been asked a few times in the last year how I know that God is speaking to me. Most often, I hear him speaking through music. The words will bring me to tears and speak to something deep inside of me.
However, I have often realized God uses books to speak to the heart of the matter as well. Several months ago, I chose to review a book titled Count it All Joy: Discover a Happiness That Circumstances Cannot Change by David Jeremiah*. It’s a commentary on Phillipians and Paul’s letter to encourage the Christians to find joy in their lives. I haven’t finished the book yet, but as I read, I can’t help but stop and examine how counting everything I endure joy will impact the way that I see and experience those circumstances that I cannot change.
Joy. Count it All Joy.
Today, I sat down to do my Bible study, James: Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore*. I’m in week 2. And we’re just sitting down to read James 1. James 1:1-4 (NLT).
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings! Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Consider it an opportunity for great joy. Beth encouraged us to replace consider with feel and examine how that impacted us. To feel joy in a hardship, in the face of trouble. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t consider hardships an opportunity to feel joy.
But James doesn’t stop at telling us to consider trials an opportunity to feel joy. He tell us that when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow. And as our endurance grows, we become more perfect in Christ. We’ll never reach full perfection here on earth, because let’s face it, this world is broken and we can never be perfect without being made whole in Jesus. But we can use our trials to show God’s glory to others.
So what are you going to do with all you’re going through?
Beth asks us to consider what we’re going to do with the experiences we’re enduring. It makes me sit down and ponder. What is God teaching me through these many trials? Each trial looks a little different, but carries echoes of the trial before it. Still there can be joy.
I’ll admit I still struggle with how to find joy in this situation. The cancer rears it’s ugly head once again and I must figure out how I’m going to respond to this situation. I’ve had 4 full days to try and process the situation and my emotions.
So far, I’ve felt devastated. I’ve sensed the dread of the “what if” question. I’ve felt the weight of the emotions.
I haven’t felt the joy. But I haven’t been looking for it either.
I want joy to be my legacy.
I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about legacy. Dreaming about what all the aspects of a legacy are and how it affects my lifestyle. Your lifestyle. And how I can best share with you all that God is impressing on my heart. There’s an explosion of thoughts and ideas that have been running through my mind.
The biggest one has been how do I share how my legacy is being shaped and growing through the normal day to day life situations. Hence, my sharing with you today.
Your legacy is being shaped by the experiences you go through in life.
And right now, the experiences in life that I am enduring are hard. But God is showing me that I must find JOY. Joy in him. Knowing that he is helping me endure these situations. And that life doesn’t have to be full of drudgery and fear. Or resistance towards what he’s trying to do in my life. I can lean into his Word. To trust that James knew what he was talking about when he said that we should consider trials an opportunity to find GREAT JOY. And when I find that joy, I can teach my daughter how to experience that joy too, even when things are hard.