Saturday, September 23, 2017

There Ain't Nothin' Gonna Steal My Joy

Hey Friend,

Any of you who read my blog regularly know that this has been a long season of "What next, Lord?"

I was getting ready to go to an appointment with my OB-GYN to discuss recent ultrasounds and the next steps depending on whether what was being seen was benign or cancerous.  Some polyps and abnormalities had turned up in my endometrial lining. I know....TMI, but you know me; I'm real here.

While I was getting dressed, I tuned into a Facebook Live event that Liz Curtis Higgs had announced.  If you don't know Liz, she's one of my favorite writers and speakers. She also has the absolute best sense of humor.  I needed a little humor right then, so I tuned in for a little levity.

Liz looked perky and smiling as usual and was sporting a sassy new hairdo. "Boy, she looks great," I thought.  As her post progressed she revealed that her new "do" was actually a wig.  She had no hair because she has been going through chemo and radiation treatments for...endometrial cancer...(gut punch)!

She had undergone a full hysterectomy and had recently come from a seven hour chemo session.  But, by the grace of God, she looked joyful....radiant even.  She calmly and matter-of-factly shared what she'd been through and shared some verses that had reminded her (us) not to make too many plans because it's the Lord who numbers our days.

Was Liz "happy" that she was going through all of this?  No, I don't think so, but she exuded a certain joy because she was alive and her joy was not in her circumstances. It was firmly set on God's goodness and love.  She talked about not taking a single day for granted and that each moment is a gift.

The Biblical definition of "joy" is: Extreme happiness with which the believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife.  A joyous mood as we encounter God and His steadfast love.  A response to God's Word.

Nowhere does it say that joy comes from circumstances.  The enemy will use circumstances to take our eyes off the Lord and focus us on fear, and defeat, and failure.  

But, God....commended my anxious heart and skyrocketing blood pressure into the hands of my compassionate doctor.  Her voice was reassuring that I'd be getting the best possible care.  She understood my worry.  She talked me step by step through what she would be doing in the outpatient procedure.  And, if the cells proved to be cancerous, what the next steps would be.  She'd be there to see me through.  

With tears in my eyes, I listened and nodded along with what she was saying. Her last words were, "Either way, you're going to be okay."

With having OCD, my mind always wants to rush to the worst case and ruminate on that, but as I was driving home from my appointment, a certain peace came over me. A peace mixed with lingering anxiety.  No matter what though, I knew that God's got me.  He's got this.  None of this is catching Him off guard. God is good and I can trust Love's heart.

I also thanked God for my amazing husband who has been at my side through so much.  He's never wavered or blinked....steadfast as they come.  Even though he had to return to work after the appointment, I knew his heart was firmly with me.  What a blessing.

I believe it is possible to experience pain and joy at the same time.  Yes, I was fearful and painfully aware of what I might be facing, BUT GOD....I was encountering His presence, at that moment, and His steadfast  

He drew my gaze upward toward Him and soothed me with the knowledge that He has always been with me and has never forsaken me.  Even life ceased....there was joy in contemplating my salvation.  It shifted me toward an eternal perspective.

About that time, this song came on the radio....yes another "But, God" moment. I really hope you'll listen to it.  I cranked up the volume and sang along as loud and passionately as I could.  My hands were raised.  Tears were flowing and the joy of the Lord was present in my SUV sanctuary.  The guy behind me, in his Ford F-150 truck, was clearly getting a charge out of my gospel style revival worship...but you know, I didn't care.  

I was singing to an audience of One!  The joy of the Lord was mine in that moment!

Because I have God, there ain't nothin' gonna steal my joy!!!

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy (delight in the Lord) to my soul.  (Psalm 94:19)

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)

The joy that I experience is not something I can muster up on my own.  It is truly a gift of the Holy Spirit.  If you are not a believer, oh how I pray you'll accept Christ into your heart so you can experience His gift of joy.  

If you are a believer, here is my prayer for you:

May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Be blessed....and, if you will, keep me in your prayers.  Surgery on Monday the 25th.  Please share in the comments how God has given YOU joy amidst the trials so that we all might be encouraged.  Thanks. ***Update for my wonderful prayer warriors...just received word:  NO CANCER, NO MORE SURGERY!!!  BIG PRAISE!!  Unless symptoms reappear, no further surgery or treatment needed at this time.  Sore, exhausted, but elated :)  God is good!!

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