The other day, I was praying through my journal writing- and a very specific prayer came to my heart:
“Lord, help me live in your joy, peace, and love and not in the sorrows of this world.”
I felt a rush of scripture come over me..
But it was the scripture of my life that came back to mind, flooding me with memories and hope.
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (Or perseverance)
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I have been fed these verses for years. I have held them deep in my heart as a life raft during the most intimidating moments of my life.
-When my son almost died from a deadly infection.
-When I struggled parenting teenagers.
-When my granddaughters were born three and a half months early.
-When my health declined.
-And today, when family addiction takes an upper hand.
In the past, my focus was on the testing and the perseverance part of these scriptures. I took their meaning for my life to be one of staying strong and committed in faith. I recognized facing trials of many kinds to be a ‘calling’ so to speak, I know trials!
But this time, in 2022- the beautiful words found in the Bible hit different. It wasn’t the trials or the testing that grabbed my attention. It was the counting trials as JOY part.
All of life is one trial after another. Some confront more difficulties than others. But when I look around my circles, no one is immune.
Counting joy in the circumstances of life isn’t a specific momentous decision during a challenge, it’s a daily choice throughout our lifetime.
When I cried out to the Lord with my prayer, He reminded me of the lesson he’s taught me for decades. (I just missed half the lesson along the way.)
What does living in joy mean?
For me, it means my focus stays on the One who gives life and gave his life for me. When the world presses in, I press in on my Savior. I am buried in his chest, no matter the strife the world piles on me. Joy and peace are untouchable if they come through Christ our Lord. Even when stress rises, I whisper, “Jesus, sweet Jesus, hold me.”
And there is abandon in His touch. I am free. I live in this world but not of this world. I live as though I’m already in heaven, experiencing His glory, dancing with the saints, praising God eternally.
That’s living in joy, love, and peace. It’s a gift. And I am forever thankful.
Life’s hard. Choose joy.