My deck umbrella waves in the slight April wind as I ponder in its shade. God has granted a beautiful spring morning. A time for reflection.
So beautiful outside yet not so lovely within.
Every stinkin’ day for several weeks, some type of something has gone wrong. It seems as if my life is shadowed by chaos.
- My dryer stopped heating.
- My emails stopped sending.
- The cat’s breast cancer rapidly accelerates. Grief threatens.
- I miss my son.
- My team lost in March Madness.
- My back fence succumbed to the Kansas wind and collapsed in the grass.
- Identity Theft from my taxes has caused a whirl of challenges.
- My car developed a strange online feature that needed a reboot from the mechanic.
- My phone is elderly and starting to show its need for a younger model.
- A client is suffering, and I grieve with her.
- Et cetera
And yes, I know others are struggling with much worse. Whenever I see a report from Ukraine, I want to grind my teeth. Except the dentist said I should not.
‘Count it all joy,’ the book of James demands.
I am not in a joyful place. It worries me that my joy is so affected by temporary circumstances. How will joy then appear when something more dreadful happens?
‘Come unto me,’ Jesus said, ‘all who are weary and heavily burdened. I will give you rest.’
Not the rest that revives during a week in the New Mexico mountains. But the emotional and lovely rest of a contented soul.
I think of several brave women I know who live with chronic pain. They must find their joy even within the midst of the struggle. Every. Single. Day. They give and live and do what they can while setting healthy boundaries. My she-roes, every one of them.
But I cannot reproduce what they own. My joy button needs to be re-set, and I cannot find the mechanism.
I DO know joy resides within me. This fruit of the Spirit is guaranteed to Jesus followers. So I struggle to find it on this beauteous April morning. Somehow, just knowing God is present with me and around me causes a sudden blip of peace.
The author of Psalm 68 urges me toward nuggets of hope:
- Let the uncompromisingly righteous be glad. Do not compromise my own joy with a focus on the bad stuff.
- Let them be in high spirits. Maybe a piece of chocolate or a glass of red wine will bring those high spirits? Neither of these treats grace my pantry, and I don’t feel like driving to get some.
- Let them rejoice in God. Keep journaling about gratitude for what DOES work in my life.
So I try to ignore the taunts of discouragement, realizing writers often morph into melancholy. Especially when we are about to write something important. Hmm – maybe this is a spiritual attack on my creative juices.
Instead, I focus on the positives of my life. Speak words of gratitude for a beautiful day, for seeds sprouting in my window, for the promise of spring flowers that will cheer me.
Ignore the frailties of my humanity and instead remember ‘the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me.’ Awesome thought.
There it comes —a bubble of joy. It resurfaces and lights my inner core with its purity.
God sends the sound of a goose to make me laugh. A chickadee feeds on my deck, his black and white wings beating in worship. God’s presence begins to rise within. I praise him for this alpha moment and hope it will keep rising.
Joy responds as Hope returns.
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