Is it possible to pray with joy in a pandemic? To pray with joy when pain, hurt, and heartbreak abound? We think so. Jodie shares how she embraced joy, prays for joy, and rejoices even if, even when the unthinkable happens, the hard comes, the hurt abounds.
I grasped and I reached and I struggled. For years I wanted the joy that I saw in others and I failed to find it no matter what I did. And there you have it. In those last words, “what I did.”
No amount of doing was going to equal joy. No amount of “having” would bring joy.
Because I had done a gracious plenty and I had more than my share. Still joy alluded me.
Surprised? Most who know me now, associate me with joy. After all, I am the girl who proclaims, “There is joy in the laundry!” And to date, the only thing I haven’t been able to see joy in is cleaning out the litter box, but really, who could blame me there?
After years of wondering and trying I did fall onto my laundry room floor, tears filled my eyes, and I embraced joy. Not a feeling. Not something connected to my circumstances. I embraced the Source of joy. I embraced Jesus as enough. Jesus, the very One who said to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11 KIV)
I embraced His joy and I did not let go.
And then, my world was rocked. My son was killed. It was senseless and heartbreaking, knocking our family from our feet. At a time when I needed prayer most, I found it difficult to form words (praise God for those who could and did intercede).
As I prepared for our son’s Homecoming services, I went before the Lord in tears, trusting him in prayer. The Father is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and I knew this to be true. I had shared this with many hurting friends and now it was my turn to trust that God was near. I do not remember all my prayers, but I do remember asking the Lord to keep me from bitterness, to give me strength, and remain my joy.
Father, remain my joy.
Be my joy.
Be my joy and my strength.
In this pain, be my joy.
In the hard and hurt we have a joy-giver. Even here, on this side of heaven, joy is possible when pain is fierce.
Have you been there? Crushed by the pain of circumstances. David was. Job felt it. Naomi called herself bitter because of heartache. When the pain and joy collide, we need peace. We need trust. We need prayer. We need one another. We need comfort. We need Jesus. We can have joy.
Today’s prayer prompt is pray with joy. If you find yourself downcast can I encourage you to fall before the Source of joy? Jesus is waiting to be your joy. Because His Spirit is within us, joy is within us. Even if, even when, the unthinkable happens, the hard comes, the hurt abounds. As you pray, remember who God is. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Review day 8 of our study.)
Even if, even when, we can choose to rejoice in our prayers. When we know the Source of true joy we can also rejoice. In Philippians 4:4 Paul proclaims, “Rejoice, in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice!” Paul understood hard and hurt. He had been shipwrecked, beaten, hungry, imprisoned.
Since my son was carried Home I find myself recalling who God is in my prayers. Reminding my heart of my constant, unchanging Companion that meets us in the hurt and offers healing to the heartbroken. As you join us in prayer today, offer God your heartache, ask for the joy you long to embrace, and rejoice as you trust our amazing God to meet you where you are.
Pray with us: Father, be our joy. Be our joy and our strength. In the heartbreak and the hurt, be our joy. Amen