It’s audio devo day! Holy Spirit has an impartation of strength for you today, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and let Him pour into your heart as you listen here:
(Does someone you know need this strengthening too? For sharing purposes, you can find this same audio devo, and others like it, on my Feeding on Jesus podcast. Check it out, subscribe, and share on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or most other podcast platforms!)
“I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 7:4, NKJV).
Selah. I know this verse is not from the book of Psalms, but can we have a Selah moment with it? Just pause and let it sink in… the thought of being “exceedingly joyful” in the middle of tribulation – brutal tribulation. In describing his hardships, Paul vividly depicts beatings, imprisonment, nakedness, hunger, and being stoned and left for dead. Years earlier, the Lord had not exaggerated when he said to Ananias regarding Paul, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name” (Acts 9:16).
And yet, this super-apostle testifies in our verse for today of being exceedingly joyful in all of it. The Greek that he uses here is a verb literally meaning “to super-abound.” His joy is super-abounding in the midst of severe suffering. Is that even possible? Is that even real? Today we are going to talk about that.
This week, I had the sacred privilege of listening to the worship leading of a young mother who lost her baby six months ago. Over and over, she sang to Jesus, “You are my joy, You are my joy, You are my joy.” She sang about having no reservations in living utterly surrendered to Him. What purity of worship! I cannot even begin to imagine what her all-consuming sacrifice of praise means to our Savior.
Several evenings ago, I had another privilege: that of giving a teaching to our worship team over Google Hangouts. Holy Spirit had me share with them on the subject of joy. We finished it out with a time of Q & A. One of the young men asked me, “What do you do, Pastorita, when you lose your joy? How do you handle that?”
What a great question!
In response, I shared with him about my experience last year during our crisis with Lily. In fact, two and half weeks ago, June 23rd, was the year mark of the day we rushed her, limp and unresponsive, into the emergency room (painfully, on the day of our 18th wedding anniversary). I explained to him, “When the doctors are telling you that your child may or may not live, your emotions are obviously not going to be in a good place. So what would I do at that time? When I was able to get home, I would close myself in my room. I would put worship music on at full blast. I would raise my hallelujah, exalting Him with all that was within me. In doing so, I would receive new strength that allowed me to press on.”
As we learn from Nehemiah, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). During that anguished time last year, as we endured 17 days of our baby in a coma, my emotions were intensely difficult. However, the Lord’s presence with me was real. I am not going to lie and say that I experienced super-abounding joy in my sadness. I am definitely still a work in progress when it comes to the development of the fruit of joy in my life. However, I see that the ordeal we went through served to deepen that fruit in me. Today, there is more joy in my daily life than there ever has been before.
Just like fearlessness, joy is developed through years of walking with the Savior. It results from coming out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death unscathed. It comes from experiencing the presence of the Fourth Man in the fire, and emerging wrapped up in His arms, unburnt. The more you personally experience His faithfulness, the more His joy grows on the inside of you.
I said “unscathed” a moment ago. I don’t mean that the crisis didn’t leave wounds in my heart. It absolutely did. But here we are a year later, and I can honestly tell you that they are not hurting anymore. I can actively remember the scenes I lived through without my heart aching and tears stinging my eyes. Jesus is a real Healer, a Faithful and True Healer. He’s been healing my soul. And as I’ve experienced His very real healing, my joy has grown deeper and deeper.
This is for you, too. Jesus is going to rescue you from every trial that you ever endure. Nothing can ever replace your own personal history with Him. In His presence is fullness of joy. Walk with Him. The more you do, the more His own joy will get into the deepest places of who you are.
Do you have something to share about your own journey further into joy? I would love to hear about it in the comment section below!