We recently finished watching the series Anne With An “E” on Netflix. This was based on Anne of Green Gables written by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The story follows an orphan who was originally mistakenly placed with an older sister and brother. They were looking for a boy to help them on their farm, but when the brother showed up at the train station all he found was Anne.
As the story continued Anne found that life, although markedly better than in an orphanage, had many challenges. She faced open prejudice, having less than many and the constant battle to prove herself as being good enough to be able to stay with the Cuthberts.
What impressed me the most was Anne’s gift to find joy and wonder in her life. A pond, a butterfly, the scent of a new day, even the shape of tree branches were all sources of something wonderful for her. Not even the negatives in her life could quench Anne’s thirst to experience joy.
That makes me a little bit jealous of her. The longer I am around, the more I need to work at living with that joy. I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. I have a wonderful family–wife, kids, grandchildren, siblings, and a loving 94 year old mother. I have a job, a church of friends and most of all a loving Savior who died for me.
Yet, I live many days without any real joy or wonder. No I am not depressed. I do not want to spend all day in bed (except Mondays), I have enough energy to get around and I do not see the world and my life through smoked glasses. I do not feel helpless or hopeless. I’m just missing joy in living.
I am working my way through the book of Job. And while I am not at all comparing my life to his, I did discover my issue. I realize my problem is morphing. Sounds weird but is true.
In Job 1, I read that God allowed the devil to have his way with Job. Being the demon he is, the devil promptly killed Job’s herds and flocks and servants and children. And it was in Job’s response I found why I don’t find joy in my life.
As messenger after messenger comes to report loss after loss, Job rips his clothing, falls down in worship and says Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. That is a reality. But then comes the rest–The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be blessed. Job 1:21 EHV.
And here is where the morphing or transformation occurs. I know that all I have–family, possessions, talents–everything comes from God. But, embarrassingly, once I receive them, they become MINE. I feel as though I earned them. I deserve the benefits from them. So when God decides to take them away, whether through my own doing or that of others, I sure don’t feeling like blessing His name. Rather I question, moan, and wonder why my life is so unfair and full of burdens instead of the joy that God intends.
No wonder I go through life trying to find the joy. I am so engulfed in attempting to keep what I have, I miss the joy that God has placed there. And even worse, I am showing a lack of trust in God to give me what is most important.
Being the loving God he is, I am never left helpless. I do not have to go too far to read this: Now may the God of hope fill you with complete joy and peace as you continue to believe, so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 EHV. That assures me of the power to change.
And further I read in Galatians chapter 5 But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My solution to my lack of joy, as with all problems I face, is through a growing of my relationship with God. Through the Bible, the Holy Spirit strengthens my faith. With that faith, I can turn my the care of everything I see as mine over to Him. As the writer was inspired to share in Job The Lord gave. All I have was never mine in the first place.
I am continuing my study of Job and his struggles. I have read through this many times before, but this time it feels more fitting. Maybe God is giving me a message. (Now that is an understatement!)
As God gives me direction through his word, I will share what I learn with you. I hope you come back to read some more. I will wait you.
A good place for me to concentrate is on the blessings I receive–not money, not possessions and not even relationships. As I look to the source of those blessings, how can I be anything but joyful.