Preached out of John 15 today.
There's a verse in there...talks about His joy being in His disciples and their joy being made complete.
He brings this up in the middle of his multi-chapter discourse with His disciples where He tells them He is heading to His death. That He will be leaving them. That they will be betraying Him, denying Him and deserting Him. That they will be persecuted because of Him.
It seems an odd place to talk about joy.
Life's going to suck...but your joy can be complete.
There will be hard places. Painful places. Unbearable places.
But those places aren't the opposite of joy. In fact they can be the ultimate catalysts for joy.
I find myself challenged, affirmed and centered by John Piper's premise:
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him...especially in suffering.
That's the exact definition of joy isn't it? That we are satisfied in the seemingly most unsatisfying places.
Contentment in contentiousness.
Delight in the midst of desperation.
Trust in tumult and turmoil.
Two years ago we named this little girl that God had placed in our path, CHAIA JOY. Our prayer was simple...That her's would be a life of joy. Shaina's middle name is Joy too.
And in one sense, I feel like saying "be careful what you wish for"...because for Chaia to be a life of joy necessitates her path be one with adversity.
It's easy to give thanks in all circumstances if all circumstances make you feel thankful.
But the times where the feelings and sentiment of gratitude escape me? To give thanks then? That is the essence of joy.
Joy sings loudest in the midst of the storm.
Not because we're insane.
Not because the storm isn't horrifying or painful.
But precisely because the storm will relent. But His love and mercy never will.
So what is stealing your joy today? Chances are if you can identify them, at their root is an ABIDING ISSUE (John 15) or a GRATITUDE ISSUE.
Trying to be thankful and press into joy in this stretch.
Chaia's treatment is still very hard on her. Pray for relief and Chaia's tolerance/adaptability. Week four begins tomorrow.
We also head to Cleveland for a follow up to see if the pressure on her optic nerves has subsided or increased. Increase could mean more hard things. Pray for subsiding and for a miraculous disappearance of a pseudo-tumor, which we shall call Steeler. (I heard of a kid beating cancer by calling it Michigan)...so there is nothing more worthwhile in my mind to crush than a Steeler!
Shaina and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage this week. Candidly, we are pretty beat up, weary of the journey, frustrated by the road we're on. Pray for perseverance...gratitude...abiding.
May joy be your story this week...no matter the hardship or hell. "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."