Written by Casey Johnson
Joy. We sing about joy often. Joy to the World. Ode to Joy. I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy. These are a few examples. We talk about joy. But what does joy mean? Many misunderstand that joy=happiness and happiness=joy. Sadly, with this misunderstanding many good people miss a wonderful gift God gave us when He gave us joy.
We are not going to be happy all of the time, life just doesn’t work that way, but we can have joy. We can have joy when life is going great. We can also have joy when our world is crumbling around us. I am sure you are wondering how on earth I can say that, especially if you see the pieces of your life shattered at your feet. Take heart and trust in the promise of the Lord in Nehemiah 8:10 – “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I normally don’t share or dwell on things that have happened in my life for the simple fact that I don’t want anyone to think I am having a pity party. If you will permit me to share a few things, I will hopefully show you how the joy of the Lord has been my strength.
I was born without a father. He passed away a couple of months before I was born. This is not one of those things I feel great loss from because I never knew what life was like with a dad. But God blessed me with an amazing, godly mother. She was a great role model for me as a Christian, a mother and friend. I feel like God made her extra special because she was doing the work of both parents.
When I was 9 years old, my mom was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Due to the Lord’s hand and my mom’s quick action to get checked out, they caught it very early. It was not an easy battle, but she relied on the Lord everyday of her fight with cancer. She lost her battle after 16 years when God called her home, I was 24 years old with a 22 month old and a 5 month old. I was in the midst of my world in pieces with two babies to take care of. The one thing that carried me through that time was God’s amazing grace. He gave me strength to get up every day and take care of my sweet babies. That strength gave me joy which in turn gave me more strength to carry on.
A little over a year later, I was separated and getting divorced from my husband. I won’t get into the details, because they don’t really matter. Blame and finger pointing isn’t necessary, because we both played our part in the demise of our marriage. The take away from that whole experience was that no matter how difficult that time was, the joy of the Lord was my strength. He carried me through every trial and tribulation.
Probably the most, raw experience to date is the miscarriage we suffered last summer. We were very surprised to find out that baby number 5 was on the way. (Totally not planned!) Shock turned into joy as we made plans for the new member of our family, I mean, we were sending our oldest off to college and now we get to start over! Pregnant at 40 was not easy, but I was excited to add to our family. Then something went wrong. An emergency trip to the hospital and ultrasound showed that we had lost our baby. The happiness was gone, and in its place was heartbreak and loss.
Every day is still a struggle. The due date came and went this past March. Nobody remembered except our family. It was this huge date still circled on our calendar that meant nothing to anyone else. Miscarriage is hard, because people easily forget. They don’t see the gaping hole in your heart, but God does.
Sweet friend, if you are broken and hurting. If you feel like you can barely make it out of bed each day. If you feel like you are drowning in your circumstances, you are not alone. You have a God that loves you more than anything. His heart is breaking right along with you. He feels all of the hurt you do.
I am not sure when my hurt will go away from our miscarriage. I also can’t tell you, if you are hurting, when yours will go away. But I am resting knowing that while not one of us in our family is overflowing with happiness. My prayer is that we will all be overflowing with joy, because “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
My name is Casey and I would like to thank Lisa for the opportunity to share my story. I blog over at www.wipingtearsandwashingfeet.com. I love Jesus and coffee and cupcakes. God has laid it on my heart to share how Jesus’ love can be applied to our every day lives. And prayerfully through sharing my experiences and you sharing yours, we can grow together into all God has planned for us.