Don’t confuse happiness with joy

In the words of Billy Graham:

Some people think Christians should always be smiling and happy, and something is wrong if they aren’t.

But this isn’t necessarily true.  Jesus stood outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and we read that, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  As he approached Jerusalem “he saw the city and wept”  (Luke 19:41) because of it’s spiritual blindness and guilt.  He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and was, “. . . in agony [and] his sweat became like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44)

Don’t confuse happiness with joy.  Happiness comes with happy circumstances; joy wells up deep inside our souls as we learn to trust Christ.  Joy does not mean that we are never sad or that we never cry.  But joy is a quiet confidence, a state of inner peace that comes from God.

Life’s troubles will rob us of our happiness, but they can never rob us of the joy God gives us, as we turn in faith to Him and seek His face.

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

From “What is joy?”  in Hope for each day, (2002).  Thomas Nelson, Inc.  p. 338.

I get this and hope you do too, Gentle Reader.   Few things can rob your happiness like waking up in the middle of the night 8-10 times with convulsive episodes and a massive headache.  It probably wasn’t nice for my beloved husband Steve either, awakened from a sound sleep lying next to me.  The aftermath for me felt like I banged my head in every direction against a wall.  Not fun at all!  Gratefully the dream I later woke up in the middle of (after more seizure attacks falling asleep)  was a reasonable one.  I mean that we had experienced something similar just under 2 years ago so it wasn’t that bad really.

I dreamed that Steve and I had moved temporarily into an apartment while some work was being done on our home only to have all of our belongings and the inside of the apartment become covered cascades of dust!  Yeah, that was not good for someone multiply chemically sensitive like me knowing that mold is often lurking in dust.  The situation was beginning to resolve when I woke up.  Phew!  It was just a dream!  This time the headache was less and the convulsions were replaced with less violent seizure attacks.  They actually helped clear my head some . . . and yet I still felt beat up.  The next few hours were meaningless . . .

Regardless, I have joy!  How is this possible you may ask?  Well, it’s just like the quote from Billy Graham noted above.  I have learned to trust Christ in all things, wretched or not.  Of course I cry in sorrow when a new treatment intended to help me makes things worse for awhile.  Call it a healing crisis, herxheimer reaction, or the like.  It’s a bite in the shorts any way you slice it!  But that doesn’t change anything between my Savior and me.  He meets me on my bed of sickness and weeps for my suffering.  This is not His intention for me yet at the same time my suffering will not be wasted because He has a plan for my life.  Maybe one part is this:  I am hoping that my suffering provided an illustration here of HOPE IN ACTION.  I pray that it will encourage someone out there who is suffering too.  HE CARES FOR YOUR SUFFERING TOO and will see you through it!

One day all of our strife and worry will be over as He makes our joy complete when He comes again in glory:  with unimaginable happiness too!  This promise holds true for those who love the Lord and call Him Savior.  If you are suffering, please do not let that stop you from seeking the best hope you have in your pain:  the person of Jesus Christ.  His love covers ALL.  In Him, you will find a joy that will transcend it all.  Gentle Reader, please do not confuse happiness with joy.  JJ

Jer 29.11

The Turning Point

When you start to leave hell, it’s important to take stock of where you have been and where you are then leave all of your baggage at the turning point.

Hi Gentle Reader.  This is my gentle wisdom to you as I gratefully and graciously turn the corner after 3 years of wretched illness.  Much grieving has already gone before me and my beloved Steve.  Much loss has already pruned that which is no longer critical to our lives.  Much angst at our Lord’s merciful throne of grace has established Who is most important in our lives and that He was leading us through all of this.  Much dashing of hopes in false turning points along the way has produced endurance for what appears to be the last leg of this race.  And yes, much joy has returned despite the jagged line that is normal in the recovery phase.  That’s o.k.  WE HAVE HOPE!!!

Briefly, I am experiencing 50% improvement in my health after beginning treatment for very high mercury levels.  This process will require a slow titration of chelating agents, detoxification with the gentlest of methods, much rest, and humility.  Humility?  Oh yeah, humility to stay watchful for the Lord’s leading each step of the way and to continue to lean on Him as my own strength returns.  My husband has proven himself again and again as the Lord’s instrument, a capable spiritual leader in my life.  I have many examples in my life how pride has gone before my downfall, you know (Proverbs 16:18).  I don’t want any more “slips and trips” anymore particularly of my own creation!

As I have started to feel better and do more my devotional time has diminished.  This is not good.  So in response to this turning point, I aim to spend more time in the Word than I have in the past when feeling reasonably well.  I aim to keep practicing gratitude:  holding lightly any material blessings, fruits of my labors, times of fellowship and the like.  I aim to smile more and complain less.  After all, I faced death many, many times!  These days the gift of  time and space, my talents and gifts, and the people/places/things around me are a bonus.  I have never believed that I deserved either the good or bad things that have happened in my life.  They simply “are.”  They simply “were.”  It is with great wonder that I aim to explore each day for what may come.

How can anyone really see beyond a turning point anyways when he or she has never been on a given journey before?  If we worry about it then we have chosen to believe a lie.  No one knows the future so why make up something bad?  Why not something good?  I aim to squelch what is false with what is true from God’s Word:

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6)

Nuff said.  Steve and I enjoyed a long walk in the rain this evening with our pup.  This picture portrays my heart inside.  God is good.  All the time.  God is good.  JJ

God is good.  All the time.  God is good.
God is good. All the time. God is good.

 

 

Waiting on the Lord

Waiting on the Lord,

Clinging to this keyboard,

Playing the “how long psalm” in my head.

 

Where does my help come from?

So obvious that it’s Him once again

And yet the troubles trouble on.

 

“God is not Santa Claus,”

I once wrote a fellow sufferer, or

One who hands us our lottery happiness ticket.

 

The Lord knows no boundary of time

So our journey must not be measured so

Lest we push ourselves out of His perfect plan.

 

For if we take the reigns

And steer off course by will

We may never see His glorious promise revealed.

 

He will never leave us or forsake us.

He is with us now and til the end.

His mercies renew and He graces us with abundantly more.

 

Humbly shall I remain

Waiting on my Lord with open eyes

For His return in glory:  it will be soon.

 

And on that day I know I will be glad for all.

like a river glorious

 

What then shall we do?

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29

I offer this passage for those of us who are Christians and are worried about what may come here in the United States.

I offer this passage for those of us who are recovering from serious illness and feel vulnerable or too weak to act in our own strength to try to change things.

I offer this passage for myself to remind me WHO is in charge of all things:  past, present, and future.  And I will add this reassurance as well:

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6

Why is it so easy to forget the Lord’s faithfulness in my life?  First, He led me to Him when I was finally ready to stop striving out of my own determination to make something out of my life, MY WAY.  Second, He gave me a reasonable life as a baby Christian only for it to spiral out of control, my control.  His hand was upon me and wanted me to depend only upon His grace.  Third, He brought me exceedingly sweet restoration, the desires of my heart, and a love worth waiting for in the arms of my intended beloved.  Fourth, He allowed exceedingly difficult weakness to strengthen our faith and prepare us for His return in glory.  Yes, I believe He will return soon.

More important than looking for what disasters may bestow us in this once great United States of America is to ready ourselves and WATCH for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Luke 12

What then shall we do?  Wait without worry; meditate on His Words, instructions and promises; carry on with the events of living; and share the hope within us.  If I must bury my nose in His holy Word for hours to calm my fears then that is exactly what I shall do.  I know I will find You there my Lord . . . in sweet fellowship until I am in your presence forevermore.  Just writing this has lifted my spirits.

Just reading this, can you sense His peace too Gentle Reader?  I hope so.  JJ

*************************

P.S.  I’m thinking of putting together a group Skype devotional and prayer time once per week with others who are largely isolated for whatever reason.  The focus would be open and based upon belief in God through the person of Jesus Christ of the Bible.  Please leave me a comment below if you might be interested.  I’ll do a separate blog on this soon!  Take care, JJ

Let us gather together for prayer . . .
Let us gather together for prayer . . .

 

Sometimes you just know

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  (John 16)

Jesus spoke these words as he was instructing the disciples about the Holy Spirit they would receive at Pentecost.  These words came hours before He was to be arrested, tried and convicted of crimes He did not commit.  He would be tortured, beaten and crucified in fulfillment of the scriptures that were written hundreds of years before He was born.  All of this happened so we could be saved from the consequences of our sin and live forever with Him in heaven.  For those who believe in Him, He dwells in their hearts, comforted and counseled by the Holy Spirit.  Call it supernatural intuition if you like.  Sometimes you just know something to be true, the right way to go.  For followers of Jesus Christ, walking in the Spirit of truth is a smidgen of heaven on earth:  one’s heart can be at peace at last.

I experienced this today.  A phone consultation with a second physician within a week brought hope.  I felt like my heart was at home in her care.  I was moved to tears when Dr. B. confided in me her faith in the Lord, shared how she had reviewed my records at length in preparation for our appointment, and led me through a plan that incorporated everything that has transpired in the past 2 years.  She has experienced biotoxin illness herself and has worked with the leading authority in the United States on this topic.  Her gentleness calmed my fears.  She listened.  Hey guys:  I am going to get well!

This next phase in my “Hope Beyond Lyme” journey will likely take another year.  The treatment steps will include baby steps such as 1/4 tablets of medication, micro nutrition, retesting at better labs, and plenty of out-of-pocket expenses.  At this point I am trusting the Lord to provide, to guide.  My husband has been a great spiritual leader during this time of illness and I know he will lead us in these next steps as well.  I am so glad I followed his advice not to fly across the country for medical consultations!  We could not have afforded it anyways.  And now the Lord has provided help from a clinic just a 2 1/2 hour car ride away.  Pure Michigan.  I’m going home to my home State for healing!

O.K. I don’t know if everything will be rosy but hey, I have hope again.  Gentle Reader, isn’t that just swell?  :J