Word of the Week

Discovering Joy: Day 5- Beth Dotson

[If you missed Beth's post on a "Love That Groans" check it out here.]

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

And the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55: 12

But the angel of the LORD said to them, ‘Do not be afraid;

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10

Though coming from different points in the Biblical story, both of these passages have a common theme -- joy will come.  For the people of Israel in captivity, joy would come at some point.  For the shepherds on that hillside that night stunned by a “Heavenly Host,” great joy would come to all people. For the disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem after Jesus had ascended, praying and very likely living in fear and obeying Jesus’ command to not leave Jerusalem but to “wait for the gift my Father promised,” joy was to come later.   The operative word for me in all of these passages is “will”.  Joy will come!

But what about joy in the midst of the pain of waiting? Waiting doesn’t seem to solicit an inner attitude of joy, at least not naturally, especially during those difficult seasons of our lives, including the season of waiting for children.

It is so easy to become obsessed by what we want and for it to dominate most of our brain power.  Easily, we “tune out” the rest of the world and “tune in” only to ourselves.  Our obsession with what we want can turn into a road toward despair, and joy becomes illusive.

Joy was illusive for my daughter when she and her husband were trying to have children and nothing was working.  She wanted a clear-cut answer from God on what direction to take, and even found herself saying to the Lord, “If I’m not meant to have kids at all, please take this desire away from me.”  She didn’t know how to let go of her desire because of its strength within her.  She found moments of joy in the classroom where she taught elementary children but was very troubled with God’s apparent silence in what they should do.

I have a beautiful calligraphic design on a plague that hangs in my living room.  At first site, it looks like a pretty design, but with a lingering look the design reveals the word-“JOY”.  Sometimes we have to look for joy in our most vulnerable moments.  It is an intentional choice, a choice that says nothing has the right to steal my joy, and that my want for something better can actually rob me of what is right there in front of my face that will bring me that illusive joy for which I am looking.  Psalm 34:7 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  We forget the first part of that verse -- to delight in the Lord and concentrate on what God will give to us, and in doing so, we forget what is most important -- to find joy in the LORD.

Finally, my daughter and son-in-law reached a point where they said, “Let’s just try this idea of IVF,” not knowing whether it was right or wrong. The decision brought relief.  A form of joy came in making the decision and trusting that, right or wrong, God would be reveled in the process.  In essence, joy came when trust came, and trust involves a letting go and trusting that God will reveal Jesus to us.  There is great joy in pursuing God with no other agenda other than to know Jesus.

Jesus had so much confidence in the Father’s love for Him that Hebrews 12: 2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”   It’s the ONLY way I know to have joy in the midst of waiting -- to fix our eyes where they belong, to trust and delight in Jesus, to remain in Jesus’ love, and to not miss what He has for us in that day.  Joy is Jesus’ gift to us, and it is His command to learn contentment in any and every situation.

Let us pray:

I have to admit, LORD, I have to learn contentment in any and every situation, especially when I do not know which way to turn and there is only confusion.  I want my desire for You to be stronger than my desire for what I want.  So here and now, help me to surrender to You, and to desire You before all other things.  Your Son surrendered Himself to Your will and Your way; help me to do the same.

BethDotsonBeth Dotson resides with her husband Danny of 42 years in Signal Mountain, TN.  She is Presbyterian and is presently working in a ministry that serves HIV clients. She loves her family dearly, has five grandchildren, and plays in the outdoors in all kinds of capacities with her husband and their black lab, Zeke. Her desire for her advent is that we would wake up to its wonder and how that wonder translates into the miracle of the mundane in our lives.