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The Gift of JOY

JOY road signEveryone I know desires to live a joy-filled life.

Young moms and seasoned moms are desperate for it …

Teen-age girls long for it …

Widows and widowers search fiercely to rediscover it …

Empty nesters, single women, corporate executives, divorcees, and college students all wonder where joy can be found.

Depression and discouragement place themselves within easy grasp, don’t they?  Frustration and sadness are usually within whispering distance.  No one needs a GPS to find the blahs, melancholy or hopelessness.

If we all long for it so intensely, where is it? Where is joy?

Depression and discouragement are known for their strong and paralyzing hold on men and women like you and me.  However, I have found that His presence is well-able to demolish the chains of sadness and disappointment.

            Will you continue with me on this amazing journey to joy?!

A Baby Named Joy

There were a group of shepherds who were defined by an inky and black existence.  These men, who were the lowest dregs of society, spent night after hopeless night taking care of someone else’s dumb sheep.  These uneducated men had no chance of promotion or pay raises.  Their lives were defined by sheep drool, sheep dung and the perpetual echo of a sheep’s “ba-a-a-a”.

However, one night that began as the carbon copy of thousands of other dark, cold nights, the world of the shepherds was instantly invaded by the announcement of a great joy!  The heaven’s exploded in rare and glorious colors and the angels of eternity made a grand pronouncement into the hopeless world of the shepherds:

“And behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”  (Luke 2:10-11).

The eternal reason the angels could announce joy had invaded Earth was because joy had come in the person of a Baby named Jesus.  Heaven opened its portals that night and joy splashed into our lives forever.  He came into our inky darkness and the joy of Heaven dripped into our world.

No matter how hopeless and dark your life seems to be, always remember that a Baby was born whom heaven had named “joy”.  The life of this Baby changed everything for every person in all of history.  His presence has come to earth and with Him He brought the joy of the atmosphere of heaven!

A Garden of Joy

I don’t know much about agriculture but this is what I do know:  when a farmer plants cucumber seeds … cucumbers will grow.  When a gardener plants sunflower seeds … sunflowers grow in that place.  It is true in every branch of agriculture and botany that you will always reap what you have sown.  If you plant radish seeds, you will not be harvesting carrots.  If you plant a rosebush … there is no need to worry that turnips will grow in that place.

However, the Bible makes one exception to this valid and scientific rule:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting”  (Psalm 126:5).

Harvest of JoyIf your life has been nothing but pain and sorrow and tears, let me assure you that your life holds more potential for true joy than someone who has lived with a white picket fence guarding the tulips of their life.  The Bible says all of your tears are going to miraculously reap a harvest of joy and rejoicing.

God takes the tears of disappointment and sadness, fertilizes them with His presence, and out of that place of deep pain will erupt an abundant harvest of joy.  You are never immune to this miracle or left out of this promise.

Only God can take your worst defeat, your greatest pain, and your moment of raw sorrow and turn it into His miraculous and irreplaceable joy.  Only God.

Here He Comes!

And now, if you are still struggling to find this solid by-product of His presence, let me just encourage you today to be grateful.  Spend some time this very minute in heartfelt worship and thanksgiving and before too long the ripples of joy will begin.

When you begin to sing in spite of pain and disappointment you will discover the most glorious gift of all … He has arrived!  He will come walking to you across the years of disappointment and gloom.  He does not come alone but with Him comes the dynamic gift that follows Him wherever He goes … the gift of joy!

*** This blog is an excerpt of Carol’s newest book, “No More Ordinary!”  To pre-order your copy today, click here.

**We have a new website!!  Our weekly blogs will now be posted EXCLUSIVELY on our website.  Be sure to check it out and subscribe to the new site!  (to subscribe to the new blog site, click on comments and then subscribe via email.)

The Journey to Joy

You make know to meFor many years, I was a depressed Christian.  I loved the Lord dearly during those dark days and even knew that I was going to heaven when I died.  However, I couldn’t discover the joy of His presence on earth.  I felt removed from hope and peace.  The black hole of depression was my constant companion and my ugly friend.

My depression was birthed in a nearly six-year battle with infertility.  I sent 5 babies to heaven who had only lived in my womb between 12 and 20 weeks.  Each conception was a miracle … and each interruption was a devastation.

My hormones were out of control … my hopes were dashed …  and my arms were empty.  Every morning when I got up, the black hole called my name.  It followed me around from the kitchen to the laundry room to the grocery store.

Although I already had given birth to 2 delightful, precocious, lively little boys … I knew that I had been created to be the mother of more.  Motherhood was my destiny and my calling.  Why was it all so difficult?

After losing 5 babies prematurely, I then became unable to conceive.  My body was in full-blown betrayal and everything that a woman was supposed to do was impossible for me.

I spent years on high doses of fertility drugs and knew the despair of a cycle of disappointment every month on day 28 … or 29 … or 30.

During these sad, frighteningly hopeless days, I developed an addiction.  The addiction of my own choosing was not found in over the counter drugs or in obsessive shopping.  The addiction to which I tied myself did not come in a bottle filled with an alcoholic substance nor was it attached to binge eating.

My addiction … my drug of choice … was truly a miracle.  While I was depressed and reeling from the pain of dashed hopes, unanswered prayers and a body that was betraying me, I became addicted to the Word of God.

Word of God

During the days of blackness, the Bible became a source of joy and light.

During long nights of hopelessness, the Word of God spoke promises and purpose.

During months of discouragement, the Bible was a voice of encouragement and blessing.

My arms were still empty but my heart was full.  My prayers were as yet unanswered but I was falling in love with Him … over and over and over again.

I would go through it all again to know Jesus the way I know Him now.

During that season of healing and restoration in my life, I asked the Lord to allow me to become an expert on joy.  What a bold prayer for a barren woman to pray!

And now I eat joy … share joy … talk joy … enjoy joy … distribute joy … splash joy … know joy … and have built a life on the joy of His presence.

Over the next few weeks of blogging, I want to share with you the principles that I have learned from my addiction to the Bible.  Every week, I will be sharing a Bible verse with the word “joy” in it and what the Lord taught me from this particular verse.

Perhaps you can view it as if you are receiving weekly vitamins of the very best kind!  A weekly injection of joy in your dark, diseased soul!

I don’t know what has caused your depression and discouragement, but I can assure you that His Word is able to heal you and encourage you.  Believe me … I know from personal experience that His Word is a miraculous healing drug and a wise and faithful counselor.

Join me … as I share with you … my journey to joy!

“You make known to me the path of life;

in Your presence is fullness of joy;

in Your right hand there are pleasures forever”

(Psalm 16:11)

Joy!

The joy is found wherever He is.

  • He is in every sunrise and sunset.
  • His presence is visible in the first flowers of spring and in the glorious leaves of fall.
  • His voice is heard in the symphony of worship and in the giggle of a baby.
  • His presence resounds in the roar of the ocean waves and in the majesty of snow-capped mountains.
  • He is found gently caressing His own in the trauma of emergency rooms and in the aftermath of violent storms.
  • He is found comforting widows and brokenhearted parents.
  • He is there in the humdrum of daily life when the dishes are piled high, the laundry is mountainous, and the bills never end.
  • He is there in unending days of loneliness and piles of tissues by your bed.
  • He is with you … and with Him … He brings the gift of Heaven’s joy!

When I am being overtaken by the deceit of my emotions what I really need is more of Him. In order to cultivate the joy of Heaven’s grandeur in my puny, ordinary life I need more of His presence and more time spent at His beautiful and nail-scarred feet.

When my joy begins to fade and is often replaced by loneliness or depression, I am gently reminded by the Holy Spirit that if I am lacking joy … guess who moved?

All the joy I will ever need this side of Heaven is found in hanging out with Him. It is found when I relentlessly choose more of Him and less of me; it is found when I understand the value of intimacy with the Lover of my soul.

If you need joy to be more practical than poetic, perhaps these suggestions will propel you toward the possibility of joy:

  • Choose a Scripture that has the word joy in it and memorize it.
  • Say it again and again and again.
  • Sing a favorite song from when you were a child in Sunday school.
  • Sing it again and again and again.
  • Whisper a prayer for someone other than yourself.
  • Read your Bible at least three days a week … then four days a week … then five days a week … until you have made it part of the substance of your life.
  • Sing at the top of your lungs while you are driving.
  • Invite some people into your home to pray.

Joy is a heartfelt and strenuous discipline that only the desperate are brave enough to choose.  I must choose His presence in spite of the world that roars around me.

For those who lack joy, perhaps part of the dilemma comes from looking for joy in all the wrong places. We mistakenly believe relationships will deliver joy, or that it is possible to purchase joy at the mall along with Gucci, Godiva, and the Gap. We think we will find joy at Disney World or at Harvard. Those pursuits, and many others, will leave you empty and lifeless, but the joy of His presence will fill you to overflowing and will give you the undeserved, miraculous gift of abundant life.

In the darkness