How To Get Back At Neighbors Who Play Loud Music The Joy of the Lord

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The Joy of the Lord

I celebrated a birthday yesterday, and with one more year came a comforting realization for someone who has been through a whole lot of soul-draining pain in the past couple of years.

Joy is a renewable resource.

When, for months, you’ve been cramming four people (including three giants) into an old two-door vehicle so small that everyone can prop their chins up on their knees…

When you, your diabetic spouse, and your two children have been without health insurance for two years…

When you’ve had to sell your home and go back to renting, only to have to deal with the “loud kids, parking in the middle of the driveway so we can’t get in or out, won’t help with the shoveling” downstairs neighbor…

When you’ve become an expert at the art of attending funerals of loved ones…

When you’ve been “so broke that I can’t even pay attention” for so long that the joke just ain’t even funny anymore…

When the ministry that’s been placed into your family has been languishing, while waiting for your gift to make room for you, for so long that it’s starting to go sour like bad milk…

When days of this have turned to weeks, the weeks have turned into months, and the months have turned into years…

You really do wonder if the promised land, the brighter day, deliverance, breakthrough, Elim, will ever come, or if darkness is just your destiny.

You wonder if by the time things start to get better, you’ll be too battered, worn, and bitter to even care anymore.

You wonder if you’ll ever get your joy back.

You wonder if God’s promise in Joel to restore the years the locusts have eaten actually applies to you.

Well, you might not wonder, but I did.

Happiness depends on happenings. If nothing good is happening, you can’t be happy. Joy is not found in us, and is not dependent on circumstance. It’s found in Christ. The happening is that He saved us, He’ll keep and sustain us, and when it’s all over, we’ll live and reign with Him forever. That happening never changes, and so our joy never has to end.

But sometimes the constant barrage of painful circumstances and seemingly never-ending trials can cause us to lose our joy. I know it did for me. I reached a place in my life where I said “God, I’m going to sleep now. You would be doing me a favor if You didn’t wake me up tomorrow, because life just hurts too much.”

But things are getting better now. At last, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s here that I re-insert my declaration.

Joy is a renewable resource.

It’s not because I read it in a deep book, or heard it said by a powerful speaker that I know it’s true. I know because I’ve been to the dry and dead place where there seemed to be no hope and no help, and I came back.

And God gave me back my joy.

That’s the key. God gave it to me. We can’t manufacture it ourselves. If we try to make ourselves exude happiness at all times, even when we’re in deep pain, we just end up being a scary Christian version of the Stepford Wives. Everything looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, something’s terribly wrong.

True joy is renewed in us by the Lord. He’s the only one who can dry the tears from our eyes and give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

He can and He will. How do I know, you ask?

Because even though we are beginning to see favor and blessings again, we still have no insurance, we’re still packed like sardines in that too-small vehicle, still renting, and still broke.

Yet here I am with my joy.

(c) Abby Phillips 2008

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