November 10, 2012

How to be joyful

Yesterday we attended the funeral of a 93-year old uncle. It was in a city normally a three-hour drive from ours. In our travels, we listened to a sermon on the radio. It was about joy and how the joy God provides does not depend on circumstances. As we listened, the joy of the Lord flooded my heart. Travel was difficult with icy road conditions and blowing snow. Our GPS guided us past the car accidents and heavy traffic through part of the city we would not have otherwise chosen and we made it in four hours. Two cousins we haven’t seen for twenty years were there so we had a good visit. 

Despite a scratchy throat and the hint of laryngitis, I felt fine, avoided handshakes, and didn’t pass on my germs. Again, our GPS took us around the heaviest traffic as we left the city during rush hour. We drove part way home and stopped for the night in a farming community. Their Farm Fair is on, but we got the last room available in the hotel, perhaps the last one in the city. All day I felt the generous provision of God and His joy.

Sitting here, looking out at minus temperatures and anticipating the drive ahead, I again feel needy. I’d like a cup of chicken soup and a hot-water bottle. And again, God is timely with His words to me.

… and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived. (2 Kings 25:30)

Today’s devotional reading rightly says that the actions of breathing which I performed yesterday will not keep me alive today. Of course, I must continue to breathe afresh every moment, or my life would cease. In the same way, yesterday’s grace and spiritual strength must be renewed. I must continue to rely on the care of God and seek His joy. 

The Holy Spirit will continue to provide what I need. I cannot take God for granted, yet at the same time, I can rely on His care every moment of every day.

Today, as yesterday, if joy depended on circumstances it would not happen. We lost a dear family member. We have a long and arduous drive ahead of us. I have laryngitis and a heavy head cold setting in. Since I’ve not had a cold for about five years, feeling sorry for myself could come easily, more easily than joy.

Yet His joy is here. Yesterday’s sermon offered several things to put in place so joy fills our hearts, but for me, it is almost always there when I am simply yielded to God, accepting my circumstances as part of His plan for me. Having a cold is not fun, but He has kept me healthy for a long time. How can I accept good from His hand and refuse the unpleasant? 

Faith is saying yes to God, no matter what. If I fight every unpleasant thing that comes my way, then I become a very crabby person. Far better to accept His daily allowance, knowing that He knows what is best. Besides, when my heart is filled with joy, it doesn’t really matter that my head is filled with germs!

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