by Laura Cates Duncan
Full disclosure. When Shelly asked if I was interested in writing an article for this issue, I hesitated for a few seconds then replied, “Okay”, thinking, “I can come up with SOMEthing.” I asked her to remind me of the purpose of this segment of the newsletter. When she stated she had been addressing the subject of joy, I inwardly groaned.
A string of thoughts bolted through my monkey-brain that went something like this: “Oh brother. I got nothin’ to share on this topic. Who am I to talk about joy? I’ve taken an anti-depressant for 30+ years. There have been fleeting moments when I wanted to die. I feel like most of my spiritual life has been spent just trudging through and trying to hang on. I have heard lessons and sermons on the subject of ‘true’ joy and ‘inner’ joy. I’ve wished I could experience that joy and others would see it in my life, but it’s just not there.”
If God needed something like an EKG or EEG to monitor the rate of joy in my spirit (maybe it would be called an electrojoyogram, otherwise known as an EJG), I’m pretty sure it would have lots of ups and downs.
Aren’t you feeling encouraged by this article right about now?!
I still have so much to learn and there’s room for so much more growth in my spirit. I’m getting there. I recently studied I and 2 Samuel, reading about King David through adult eyes versus the flannel-figure David of my childhood. I was particularly struck by a song David sang to God in 2 Samuel 22. I had never noticed the prayer song before. Due to its length I won’t include the entire text, but I strongly encourage you to read it as soon as you’re finished looking through this newsletter. Here are two segments from that chapter:
“And David spoke the words of this song to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said,
‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence. I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. For the waves of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me; the cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; and from His temple He heard my voice, and my cry for help came into His ears.….He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not acted wickedly against my God. For all His ordinances were before me, and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also blameless toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness before His eyes.”
Here are a few of my takeaways from that text. God is: my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, my horn of salvation, my stronghold, worthy to be praised, my refuge, hears my cries for help, my support, my rescuer, my rewarder, kind to me, blameless, pure, astute, my lamp, my strength.
I’ll tell you why I felt joy when I read this passage (several times): I knew the outcome of David’s life. David sought God, listened to Him and obeyed Him most of the time. But he also committed adultery, arranged for his lover’s husband to be killed in battle, lost the young son born from the adulterous relationship, was not the greatest dad to his other kids, got angry at God and acted impulsively at times. And yet, and yet, and yet, David was a man after God’s heart. God continued to love David, bless him and his rule over Judah, forgave him, and kept His promises to him. If God will walk alongside an imperfect David, I trust He will also walk alongside me as I, for now, “trudge” through life.
Ladies, that’s reason for joy!!! I feel the load lifting from my spirit. I can’t turn back the clock and relive my past life in joy. But now, as the months and years of my life pass and I get closer and closer to being with God in my true home, I can sense the joy-reading improving. God’s word is coming alive. With that comes joy. Keep the faith ladies. You too can experience an improved electrojoyogram reading! Blessings.