And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,-Hebrews 10:24, NIV.
So, I have a confession to make. This last year has been difficult and despite my best efforts at trying to see the glass half full, I can’t. It is really joy I am looking for right now. The past month has seen two family friends pass away that were pillars of my young life growing up. Somehow, when you lose those who helped to shape who you are, it shakes your world. It is like the foundation you counted on is no longer there.
So, I was very grateful and thankful to my son and his wife for gifting me with a new devotional book by Shaunti Feldhahn, Find Joy. It can be found Amazon, if you would like to buy it. To be honest it was on my Christmas wish list, so it was a book I wanted to read, but the timing for receiving the book was perfect. God’s timing.
Since we’re being honest here in this blog, this book is not what I had expected. It is not an easy quick fix, full of positive Bible verses to read, but really is an eye opener for me personally.
If you recall my last blog, I talked about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out. And that is still true, but sometimes we need another person to come alongside us with encouragement too. The Apostle Paul planted many churches and preached the Gospel many times to an unbelieving, Gentile world, but what we forget sometimes is that the letters he wrote were to believers that needed encouragement and direction. We all need that. It’s tough to go it alone on this faith journey. We need each other. I am so thankful for people like Shaunti Feldhahn for being an encourager of others.
The big thing I have learned so far from reading the book is that joy is present. It is not something we need to conjure up on our own, like psyching ourselves up. And it is not God who withholds joy from us, but it is our own issues that blocks the joy in our lives. I need to let go of any unforgiveness, to stop and be amazed by God, following God’s plan for my life instead of my own, and remembering all the good things God has done and brought me through on this journey. Like I said, it’s not memorizing some feel good Bible verses, but its about getting rid of the joy blockers. At least that is what I am getting out of this particular devotional book. I’ll let you know later after I have read more. I’m only a few pages in.
You might be having a difficult year this year too. Just know you are not alone. Life’s challenges hit us all, Christian and non- Christian alike, but as believers we can go to God and allow Him to speak to us from His Word, and from other Christians. And we can help others and encourage others from what we have gone through.
And maybe instead of pursuing joy, we learn to stop and listen to God. He might just reveal the things that we are allowing that block joy. Joy is not something out of reach, but is right where we need it to be, found in Him, alone. God Bless- Nancy