This month has been hard. Hard. I think it's so interesting how when a new truth begins to really sink into my heart, the enemy comes and tries to snatch it away. This month has been the battle over joy. I was learning to practice eucharisteo and this month we have faced: unemployment, collectors calling, fear over a cancer recurrence, some new and scary behavior issues with Alaya, major issues with some members of my family, fear of man and their opinions of us, worry, stress, etc. The week I was dealing with the cancer stuff I got completely lost and forgot all about practicing joy.
I am learning about true joy though. I think that we practice joy through gratitude in the moment, but God is showing me other things about joy:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)
With no trial, there is no joy. We don't understand true joy unless we have experienced real trials because they are polar opposites of each other. I believe that God wants us to have true joy, which is in Him alone; and unless we walk the hard road--the road of dying to self, the road of picking up our cross as Jesus did, the road of leaving it all to follow him--we don't know what true joy is. It's a paradox, the great mystery of faith. Joy out of suffering. Joy in our suffering.
Last night I was praying with some dear friends and one of them said, "As Christians we are taught to walk by faith, but that is not popular in this society, even in church society." But Christ says to walk by faith. Faith comes by hearing, not by seeing. We have become so practical as the Western church that we don't even really know what faith is. Maybe that's why so many people don't want anything to do with the church, because we aren't really living it out anyway. We are walking by sight. We say one thing but we do another. We believe something different than we proclaim.
God is committed to His glory. He will not let His Name be defamed. He is committed to working out true faith in us. And I want that. It costs a lot. I can tell right now. I don't even know what I'm asking. But I know Him and I know He's worth whatever it costs.
Lord help me, help us, have the strength to endure these trials with JOY.