Ou Unexpected Journey

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I had a good time of prayer with Floyd this week.  He was looking good, but was very quiet and solemn.  I felt I touched something in his heart as I prayed.  We continue to pray for encouragement for him.

I heard from a friend of ours who has only been in the hospital for a short while, but is already suffering from bed sores.  They can be so painful!  It made me realize again what a gift it is that Floyd has not had any all this time.  The nurses themselves  actually call it a miracle.  I'm so grateful.  

Then right after I was just thanking the Lord that Floyd hasn't had any bed sores, he now is developing a pressure sore on his foot.  I am very sad about this.  We are really praying for it to be healed!

On this long, unexpected journey I'm on, I've faced a myriad of emotions.  I guess that's true of life in general, but especially so when you're going through hard times.  There has been shock, pain, loneliness, grief, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, fear, worry, disappointment.  It seems like the emotions have been all over the place at different times and on different days.

I was surprised when I even faced some feelings of rejection.  I didn't expect that on this journey.  Some months ago, a friend sent me a paper Floyd had written a few years ago on rejection.  I thought it was good, but didn't give it a lot of thought.  Then one day I faced that emotion - and I was so grateful to have Floyd's "help" in walking through it from his teaching.  I'll post his teaching on his page so that you can read it, it’s called ‘The Gift of Rejection’.  I feel I am to pass it on.  It has meant a lot to me that even in his "silence" he ministered to my heart through the paper he had written.

One of the comforts to my heart is knowing that Jesus understands every emotion we face.  He has faced many of the same things, and is ready to comfort us in whatever we are going through.  We don't have to face the roller coaster of emotions alone.  He is holding our right hand, and staying right beside us.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin."  Hebrews 4:15

In the midst of my emotions, I haven't asked a lot of "why" questions.  But there is no sin in asking “why.”  Even Jesus did that.  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Matthew 27:46  It may not have been a question as much as a statement of agony......but He asked.  I've heard some people refer condemningly to anyone who asks God "why?"  I don't think God is upset if we question Him.  He understands our own agony, sometimes bewilderment, at things that happen to us.

We can't hide our emotions or our thoughts.  God created us with those emotions and feelings.  The important thing is to bring them to Him......to bring our questions to Him.  We can't stay in the barren wilderness of our feelings.  We'll die if we stay there.  But we can bring them to Him, and receive His grace, strength, help, and comfort.

One thing I am absolutely confident in is that the Lord is with me every moment, in every emotion, in every hard situation that I face.  He longs to help me, not condemn me or rebuke me.  He understands, and He wants to meet me and support me.  I am grateful beyond words for His help.  I am "still standing" because He has helped me with everything I've faced.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you."  Psalm 56:3

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

"Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."  Psalm 62:8

"He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."  Isaiah 53:3

I remember one weekend during the first year of this journey when things had impacted me so severely - and my heart was hurting so badly, that I was physically shaking.  I couldn't stop.  Some friends came over to pray for me.  As they prayed, God's love invaded my heart and peace came.  It was amazing.  I've remembered that with each emotion I've faced.  God is there to help me.  He will meet each need, each emotion, each pain with His love and care.  I am so, so grateful!

The other emotion that I didn't know I would encounter so wonderfully - and the one that I didn't even fully understand what it would mean to me - is "the joy of the Lord."  I've shared about it before, but it seems I keep understanding and experiencing it at deeper levels.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

I know the Bible promises that joy.  It sounds simple.  We can even take it for granted that it'll be there.  But I've been pondering what it actually means in a tangible, every day experience and walk of life in all that we face.  What does it look like?  How do I get it?  One thing I know for sure is that it can only come from Him.  Nothing the world has to offer can give us the joy that is our strength in the midst of suffering and trials.

For me, the joy of the Lord is:

-  a peace when turmoil rages all around me.

- a calm in the middle of a raging storm of pain and hardship.

- a deep comfort in facing grief and loss.

- a contentment that is totally unexplainable except for His grace.

- a happiness when everything is still very sad.

- a "rest" in my spirit even though tears are rolling down my cheeks.

- an ability to enjoy life in spite of tragic and difficult circumstances.

It's not a happy-go-lucky feeling.  It goes so much deeper than anything I can feel.  His joy is a bottomless well that I can draw on.  There is an abundant supply, and the well will never go dry.  No drought will dry up the well of His joy.  

His joy is a gift that we need to receive.  We can choose it.  We need to take hold of it.  We even need to practice it.  On some of my hardest days, I speak out obtaining His joy in these ways.  It's there, but I can't be passive about it.

I think one of the ways we can be active in receiving His joy is by believing that He truly loves us - that He delights in us.  I know from experience that the enemy loves to whisper lies in my ears that I'm not doing enough.  That I'm failing God.  That He's disappointed in me.  When that happens, I love to proclaim the truth of this verse:

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."  Zephaniah 3:17

We can also be active in receiving His joy by spending time in His word and meditating on His promises.  We can enter into His comfort and joy by worshipping Him - even when we don't feel like it.  It's so important to remember who He is, to reflect on all He's done, and to proclaim His truth and promises.  It's hard not to have the joy that He gives when we're doing these things!

Happiness is a response we can have to our circumstances, but joy is the sweet gift that comes straight from the throne of grace.  In fact, the Greek word for joy and grace are almost identical.  They come from the same root word.  Joy (His grace) doesn't disappoint us in hard times.  It is our wonderful strength from the Father.  Nothing and no one can take it away!

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."  Psalm 94:19

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

"Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."  John 16:22

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

"I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."  Jeremiah 31:13

"When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."  James 1:2

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."  Isaiah 12:2,3

As my journey continues and at time feels more intense than I can manage I'm putting all the things I've just written about into daily practice in my own life.  I'm grateful for His joy that is my strength.  It carries me through the hard days.