The Face of Joy

Several things leave my heart feeling heavy tonight.   Thinking about the financial struggles that one family shared with me during their son’s doctor visit.  Finding out that a newborn with a metabolic disorder will not have normal brain function.  Reading the words of a man who has recently lost his wife and now faces a new stage of single fatherhood.

There are no simple answers.  The sting and ache is real.  The road is long and unforgiving.

Tonight I came across Habakkuk 3:17-19.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls —
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Although I may not directly relate to the agricultural disaster painted in this verse, I get the point.  All that is valuable has been stripped away.  All the hard work and investment, all the hopes and dreams, all the expectations and assumptions of what sustains and gives life — gone.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.

This shakes me.  Would I continue to rejoice in the Lord?  Or does my trust in God only exist when God meets my terms, my plans, and my sense of entitlement?  And is God truly enough even in the midst of heartache?

The hard truth is …  If trusting in God depended on my own ability and determination to be “faithful”, then why yes, my faith would falter and fail the moment that my contingencies aren’t met.  It is incredibly easy to praise God when everything is going according to my plans and desired comfort level, because I secretly like to think I’m the one calling the shots.

But the following promise encourages me.  The Lord God is my strength.

I alone cannot be strong enough to be faithful, but God alone is strong enough to give me faith.  He alone can protect and grow that faith, even if it seems foolish in the eyes of others.  Even if it seems foolish to me as well.

I wonder at such faith.  Faith that emerges from suffering and heartache even more radiant and pure.  Faith that bears the face of joy, covered in tears and scars but undaunted and steadfast in hope.   As I ponder this, I begin to recognize this face of joy.  It is Jesus.  It is why I believe.  Not because I have faith.  But because Jesus is faithful.  Not because I am strong.  But because I am weak, in fact.  Not because it’s convenient.  But because God knows a lot more about true joy than I can possibly pursue in my myopic five, ten, or twenty year plan.

So I trust that God will be my strength.  In all circumstances.  In celebration, and in grief.

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

2 thoughts on “The Face of Joy

  1. So honored to know you Yolanda. Your faith inspires and encourages me in my faith. It wasn’t until our bookclub that I stopped seeing Christians as huge hypocrites but instead as people just like me struggling and wanting more out of life 🙂 I am so glad you’ve decided to go the direction you are going with your writing.

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