2020 included many reasons to be discouraged. Pandemic isolation, advanced lung disease, lengthy hospitalization, 55th anniversary plans changed, birthday and wedding plans cancelled, death of friend, and miscarriage.
However, the word “Joy” kept showing up in devotionals, scripture, and teachings. Great joy, joy unspeakable, reckless joy, the joy of the Lord is my strength, intimate joy, surprised by joy, and Secret joy.
God prepared my journey of joy in late 2019 at a Women of Joy Conference. Nervous about leaving my husband by himself, I ventured out with ladies from my church. We had a great weekend of teaching, worship and yes, JOY!
Friday, the worship songs were too contemporary for this 70+ gal. But on Saturday night Michael W. Smith led worship and all the songs were familiar and favorites. I was able to release the heavy concern for my husband and the “what ifs” of the future and worship. The reckless love of God overwhelmed me and allowed God to flood my soul.
My journal records – “Thank you Lord for showering me with that overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God, I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, yet you gave yourself to me. Thank you for touching my inmost being with your spirit. And thank you for taking care of John while I was gone.” (Even though when I returned, he had not been able to get TV remote to work most of weekend and too embarrassed to call anyone for help.)
Christmas brought a gift from our granddaughter and her husband for a family photo shoot. Pure joy. Next day golf with son and grandson added to my joy.
Then on January 1, 2020, changed the calendar cube and noticed the scripture on the bottom.
Psalm 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Opening my prayer journal to favorite verses noticed that most contained the word joy. Most favorite –
3 John 1:1-4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Then these two entries:
12/21/19 – Father God being in your presence is my joy. There is nothing like knowing you and the peace you give. My desire is for our sons and grandchildren to know that joy and peace.
1/7/20 – It is a joy to Jesus when we are intimate with him – never lonely, never need sympathy – never leave impressions of ourselves but only that Jesus is having his way with us. Hallelujah! That is joy.
Photos from 2020 show much joy experienced even though most of our plans failed.
So, my friends, (as my husband would say when he preached) you can experience the joy of the Lord even in the presence of challenging times. He is our joy.
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great JOY into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!