This is the next instalment in a year of guest posts on Joy as part of my year of focussing on joy (my word for the year). This month we have a post from Naomi McBain. Naomi is a friend of mine who has nurtured my faith in amazing ways, over the years. She also runs ‘Hope’, a non-profit organisation building confidence, creating a future for families and communities, find out more here.
It’s taken a while to get down to writing this blog as joy has been a concept I have had tussles with on and off for many a year. Don’t get me wrong… it isn’t that I have had a bad life making it hard to understand joy, or even the absence of a deep joy in worship and growth in faith. I got the concept that joy is a deeper thing than happiness; indeed there have been many occasions when I have felt I am soaring in the strength of Jesus and His deep peace, my hunger for Him, a driving force as I sought to know Him more, to plunge to deeper depths in His abundant kingdom of blessings. My faith led me to go places that challenged me and took me out of my comfort zone. This was equalled by the presence of God showing up, to light my path and provide my needs. There has never been any doubt in the Lordship of Jesus since I gave my life to Him 28 years ago, nor a let up that there is always more to find.
So what was it you were tussling with then Naomi I hear you asking… sounds like you were rocking and rolling? My issue… the consistency of joy; passages like “the joy of the Lord is my strength” or “I’m content no matter what my circumstances” challenged me as I faced times where others seemed so much more together, when I struggled to worship or make sense of what the day was bringing me. Where despair, comparison, unanswered prayer, and hopelessness in the promises I felt for things to come drove me down. I was coping on the outside but inside doubts and low confidence, lack of self worth and inferiority were speaking loud. Joy was far from me. Faith and belief in Jesus took me to his feet in prayer but joy gave no light or hope of comfort or strength.
So what changed?
Circumstances I was in meant I saw the true power of the bible at work, certainty came in the sufficiency of Christ in me and I saw, for the first time, what it was to wear the white robes of righteousness. The certainty that comes through His grace and the joy he takes in having me surrendered to Him in loving others for the enrichment of His kingdom in their lives.
Now passages such as Habakkuk 3v 18… “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation” ring out from the page and cause a flood of worship and praise and delight in the goodness and passion Jesus has for me. I have a clearer awareness of how loved I am. Even though circumstances haven’t changed, and there are still challenges and mountains to climb, there is a joy in my core that wasn’t there before. I am able to enjoy the spacious expanses of the green pastures as I still myself and truly know He is God, taking joy in just being with Him for no other reason than hanging out with the most amazing person ever. The conquering king, my saviour, for whom nothing of my life goes unseen and nothing is bigger or beyond Him. The vibrancy and colour of His kingdoms ways are a sight to be seen, full of light, beauty, love and abundant life in the river of His delights.
I thank Him for His goodness, grace and mercy and pray that these words inspire hunger and hope to others needing a fresh insight into a deeper joy in Jesus. There is always more!