"Count it all joy when you encounter various trials...."
I have heard this verse, listened to numerous messages about this verse and read this verse during my quiet mornings over the years from my tattered and marked up pages in my Bible. But....this past month I couldn't wrap my head and my heart around what it really looked like. How I was actually supposed to do this. I began to realize that I knew it in my head and would nod when hearing it as if yes that's what we're supposed to do but it had never fully sunk down into the bedrock of my faith and my heart.
Then another trial came, as they often do in this thing called life. This time, this trial, God was going to drag it out of me what "considering it all joy" truly meant. I'm so glad He's so patient with me and gently brings me to these eye opening places. The journey and process of opening my eyes is often laced with pain and tears and a begging - a longing to get it over with so I can learn the lesson and move on to the dancing amongst the daisies season in my life. Okay so I've never really danced amongst daisies, or even held them in my hand while dancing but when I think of a happy season, a season filled with joy I often have this picture in my head and want to run away to this field of daisies. Actually I want to live there and never leave.
Then God continues to press on my heart as He patiently hopes I'll "get it" someday that this fantasy picture is not true joy. It's sweet and has it's place and season in our lives but it's temporary.
The other afternoon I sat in my favorite dark green chenille fabric chair and cried out to God to show me how it really looks to "consider everything joy" especially the difficult trial I recently found myself walking. I mean I know it in my head but I wanted to know what this 'considering" really looked like and how do I do it. I'll admit I felt dumb.....I questioned how much I really ever listen in church or pay attention when I read. I had been praying this prayer for days - possibly a couple weeks so when I sat there and read the simplest line - it's revelation and it's meaning hit me so hard I just sat there and wept. It was as if God had hand written it to me in that moment - it was that true that alive and that intimate. He knew at that moment I was ready to receive it and believe it and live it out. Days before I perhaps still wouldn't have marveled at it's truth.
I read true joy comes from a "conscious commitment to face each trial with joy". Some of you may be saying duh...that's what the verse says. But....I kept wanting the joy to just show up in my heart. I wanted God to just make me joyful. I wanted it to come naturally from Him so it wasn't something of myself that wasn't real or lasting. But.....then I read what God wants is my conscious commitment to choose joy even when it's hard. I love the word conscious because I have to set my mind on it - I have to be deliberate in my intentions. I love the word commitment because it has to be solid, bedrock not just a flippant thought in the moment as if okay I'll cave in this time and do it but not always.
I lifted my head and looked out the window and smiled - a big joyful smile for the first time that day. I watched it come alive in my heart. I took another sip of my coffee and just kept repeating those penned words out loud. It sunk in - it was there - the joy. The joy that I had been begging for and asking for was there simply because I chose to choose it and then I stood up and accomplished all the tasks I needed to that day and watched as God carried me through it all with a smile of deep heart felt joy.
I wish every dark day we walked could end this simply - sometimes it takes many days but are we willing? Are we willing to sit at His feet and let Him reveal Himself to us when He knows we're ready to hear it or are we impatient and just want to get through it to the daisies?