by Chris Manion @ChrisManionBook
Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us, for as many years as we have seen adversity. Psalm 90:15 CSB
Have you ever tried to make someone smile or laugh when they didn’t feel like it? Our efforts can generate looks that could make soufflés fall. I know. I’ve given such looks. My son captured one once and put the photo in his favorite Christmas ornament. It reads: “Here comes Santa!”
He places the mortifying ornament front and center on his Christmas tree each year. I move it to the back. The next morning, it mysteriously appears front and center. I roll my eyes. Everyone else grins. It’s one of God’s lessons to me about finding joy in the moments He gives me.
Joy is a challenging word for our times. It happens to be the word I chose for this year. Before all “this” happened.
Do you think God knew what He was doing when He put that word in my heart? I do. And I’m working on embracing it. He’s showing me how to rejoice.
The work of embracing joy in trying times stretches me. It’s meant to, don’t you think? God wants our knowledge of Him to grow deeper. When I try to choose joy these days, tears threaten. “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy…” (Psalm 126:5,6 NKJB).
When I’m obedient to what I know He’s calling me to do, joy comes freely. I laugh then ask myself: Where did that come from? How could I be laughing when I was glum just moments ago? My soul knows. I can almost feel its eye roll at the question. The joy of the Lord’s delight in us can’t help but overflow into our spirits.
My struggle to embrace joy in dark days deepens my relationship with love. Jesus wants to gives us joy and peace. In fact, if we take Jesus at His word, He’s already given it. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).
It pains Him when we refuse His gifts. When we push back on His peace, we refuse His love. It seems incongruous that I would push back, but I do. It’s part of our fallen human nature. I haven’t been willing to submit all my free will to Him yet. I’m still holding onto a ridiculous sliver of hope that I can still control some part of my life.
Joy follows awe like a soufflé rises in the desert heat of an oven.
When we accept the refreshment of His peace in these desert times, joy blossoms from the dry soil of our souls. Then we look up to the heavens and in reverence and glimpse the wonders He created around us.
And we gasp in awe.
About the author: Chris Sauter Manion loves to speak from her core Scripture verse: The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). She’s an award-winning author, leadership expert and inspirational speaker who uses skills from building a $20 million sales organization to help people of all ages embrace the give and take of a deepening relationship with God. Chris lives with her husband of forty-plus years in Florida‘s panhandle where she kayaks and photographs the Gulf coast’s natural beauty. She is a grandmother of five wee ones and loses all sense of time when gardening, creating and cooking. Reach out to her at www.ChrisManion.com
Join the conversation: In what part of your life is God showing you how to rejoice?