Sunday, September 6, 2009

Joy Revisited

For some months now, I have felt rather odd when I have had the chance to interact with people who are hurting because of life. I usually welcome these interactions because I understand and I have hope from my own experience to offer. Lately, I have felt as though I had lost my right to say that I understand.

Life is still . . . unpredictable. There are still painful situations that I wake up to every day, all is definitely not right in the world. Yet, it all seems inexplicably okay and suffering seems to be unrealistically absent in my life right now. Not just a dull detached 'okay,' but a rich often delightful 'okay.'

I was trying to explain this, and my confusion because of it, to a friend who was being crushed by the weight of her own life problems. She surprised me by saying that I should encourage others with this. How could it be encouraging to a suffering person to tell them that my life is very enjoyable right now? I was still trying to excuse it as some kind of weird and embarrassing anomaly. Then I remembered my post from December of last year.

I wrote about joy. I had found that it was not a luxury but a necessity and I accepted if from God by faith, in the face of contrary feelings. Could it be that this strange 'okayness' in my life was a direct result of that acceptance of joy?

I am still not entirely convinced. I still feel a strong urge to apologize to the world for not currently being in pain of some sort. But it does cause me to wonder, why don't we think of joy as a practical gift of God? Why do we never hear sermons on the necessity of it? Why do we still believe that joy can only exist when our circumstances line up favorably?

Nehemiah 8:10 says, " . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength." Being sick and experiencing physical weakness has made me realize that strength is not a vain desire but a necessity for life. My mind kept wanting to tie this in with the armor of God in Ephesians. I think I finally found a viable connection.

Armor is useless on a person without strength, not only useless but incapacitating. Joy is necessary. If you are living without it you are only barely surviving. I don't know what joy is exactly, I suspect that it is an unexplainable mystery.

I am particularly interested in your thoughts about joy. Have you thought much about it? Have you heard much about it? Have you experienced it? Do you consider it fleeting or lasting? What is your general understanding of it? Has God brought it to your attention? If so, what came of it? How do you think it is related to emotions, circumstances, and faith?

Thank God, I don't have to understand His gifts to accept them, experience them and live in them.


Alaina said...

Dear Lauren,
Thanks for posting, I'd comment here but I already gave my two cents on fb.
Love, hugs and happy thoughts,

Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!