I am a set-apart, daughter of the King in a constant state of being made and molded into His likeness. I desire to live a radical and reckless life making His name famous. I am blessed to be marrying my high school sweetheart in June 2012. He is my best friend and partner in ministry.
Lindsey J. 19 years old,
Full time college student
Joy in BrokennessThe joy of the Lord is your strength –Nehemiah 8:10
This verse has often encouraged me. Yes, I need the Lord’s strength. Yes, if I could just have a little bit of his power, maybe it could get me through this crazy day of running errands, sitting in carpool, and caring for needy whining children – all following another sleepless night.
These are the types of days that I find myself praying for some God-like strength to fall down upon me and make life easier. However, it is in those moments that God typically reminds me that I am beyond blessed. Life is beautiful; it is a gift. Those crazy, busy days are the ones I should be thankful for.
I’ve sat in traffic, spent thirty minutes trying to find a parking spot, and hiked across campus to sit in an often boring class - but I am thankful to be receiving a college education. The days are long and can be stressful - but I am thankful that I am one day closer to getting married to my best friend and an incredible man of God. I don’t like some of the conversations I’ve had to have with my mom, hashing out wedding details – but her hugs, oh, her hugs are the best! I am thankful for her and her love for me.
As I count my blessings, I find plenty to be joyful about. There are many things for which I am beyond grateful. It is in these crazy, busy, and blessed days that we glean our strength from the Lord. These are the days that joy comes pretty easily.
What does it look like, though, to experience joy and the strength of the Lord during hard times of brokenness, loneliness, and heartache? Sometimes I associate happiness with joy, but really they couldn’t be more different. Happiness is temporary and depends upon circumstance. While it is hard to be happy in difficult situations, joy can be found in any circumstance. Joy is the hope that comes from a relationship with Jesus. It is the confidence that God is working behind the scenes for your best and for His glory. Joy doesn’t always make sense, but it is there, nonetheless. Joy is finding a power beyond yourself and discovering a strength that you don’t have. It is God’s activity of turning times of mourning into gladness. Transforming ashes to beauty.
I think of a baby boy that I care for. He can be lying in the middle of the living room with absolute chaos going on around him and yet he is still lying there giggling to himself. It is the picture of pure joy and innocence. He has three older siblings and they may be fighting, crying and making loud noises, but there he is, just smiling to himself. This baby boy reminds me of what it looks like to experience joy even in hard times. I know his momma feels the same way. Even though this is a difficult season of life with her four children, five years old and under, she finds joy in their giggles and smiles. Several of them face a number of special needs, yet she finds the joy of the Lord in the brokenness.
Joy in the midst of heartache happens when we let go, surrendering all our desires for God’s very best. Joy can fully be experienced when He becomes the lover of your soul. Is it possible to have joy even in heartache, when you are burdened, or when you just feel like falling apart? Yes. Only the joy that comes from the Lord can do that. If you ask Him and seek Him, you better believe that He will do it!
I find myself wondering why I feel overflowing joy when I should be tired and worn out. I know that it is God answering my prayer to experience His joy. He is strengthening me. The moments when I am fully experiencing the joy of the Lord occur when I am fully surrendering to Him. It’s not when I am depending on myself or others, but when I am relying on His strength.
I am so fragile. If “the joy of the Lord is my strength,” then I have to let God strengthen me through joy. We can only handle today and look forward to eternity. Those are the only two days that we should be concerned with - today and that glorious day. On the days I feel most broken, I consider a future with Jesus forever in Heaven. That alone is joy!
A moment of pure joy for my mom and I in celebrating my engagement.