Editor’s note: John 15:13 says that “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” For the month of July, each blog post will be centered around this verse and finding the JOY in a life of Christ.
Have you ever had a season where a word just keeps popping up? Every day it’s there, and it quickly becomes a constant reminder of a long-awaited change that is about to take place, one for which you have been praying. This word for me was JOY. I’d see it on billboards, on jewelry, and at the airport. I was reminded of joy every day, while I was living in the middle of the darkest season of my life. 1 Peter 1:6 talks about enduring many trials for “a little while.“ Well, I was living in the “ little while.” Although the wonderful joy was promised, and I was instructed to be TRULY glad- I was also instructed to endure.
I had an exceptionally long season of waiting on the Lord for a new job. Much to my excitement, I landed a dream job of traveling the world as a lead singer of a cruise line- and not just any cruise line…a world-class cruise line! I arrived on the ship with every expectation and hope that this new job would be everything I had prayed for. Based on previous experience, I had expected that my new co- workers would rally behind me and encourage me every step of the way. I thought they would be understanding of small mistakes and have my back. After all, I was a well-seasoned professional; they would respect that, right? WRONG! I wasn’t shown kindness or understanding for the human errors I made. If I asked a question, I was mocked and eyes would roll at me. My worst nightmare in a job environment had come true.
At this point a lot of fear settled inside my heart, and I began to question myself and my purpose for being there. Did I truly hear from the Lord on this? Was I meant to be here? Anxiety like I had never known overtook me each morning. At one point I was so oppressed that I just kept my head down backstage in my Bible and I would make no eye contact with anyone. I was extremely lonely and didn’t have a friend to talk to. I could feel the light and joy gradually deplete from my spirit. “I can’t continue the way things have gone” my journal read, “It’s like living in constant fear or dread. I hate it and it wrecks me- Please lead me, Lord”. I was faced with two options: Either God is who He says He is and HE will help me through this, or He’s not. As those hard and miserable weeks passed, I wrote, “I had no idea this new season involved this. It’s been so hard. But God has been so real to me. He has not left me comfortless or alone. His word is right there to catch me.” And catch me it did!
God’s word never becomes more real than when you are going through a trial. As I poured into His word, there were 4 simple, yet profound things that helped me break through the darkness and into JOY!
1. I Looked – “Those who look to Him will be radiant with joy, no shadow of shame will cover their faces.” Psalm 34:4-5 Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.
2. I Listened – “My sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name, the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” John 10:3-4
“Fear not for I am with you, I have called you by your name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers they will not overflow you.” Isaiah 43:1-2
3. I Let it Go– Three simple words that changed my outlook!
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger be put away from you. Be kind to one another; forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” and “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.” Isaiah 43:18-19
4. I Loved– I was told by a mentor to just love on them for 6 months and then I would earn their trust. That was a true game changer for me, because that’s exactly what happened!
“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12.
I don’t find it coincidental that just before this, in verse 11, Jesus says- “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.”
Have you ever wondered how Paul could write to the Philippians, “the book of joy” from a lonely prison cell? Just as he inscribed that book from a dark and lonely prison, Jesus inscribed new joy on my heart through a dark and lonely season. You see, my circumstances had not changed, but I definitely did! Those lonely places where we find ourselves are places the Lord has divinely called us because He has a work to do in us- a beautiful work! So there is wonderful joy ahead! In that, my sisters, you can be truly glad!
We would like to thank Julie Posey for writing this blog post.