Joy on the Journey: Is joy a choice?

Sometimes the smooth pavement beneath us turns to gravel and we find ourselves questioning the journey. At times it becomes a narrow path, not of our choosing, and we wonder how or why we have been asked to pick our way through the “handicaps” we have been dealt. We stumble over the jagged rocks of disappointment and hurt. During those times, can we really find joy; real joy? Joy when the walls around us are crumbling? Joy when the doctor’s report is not good? Joy when we read about one more tragedy in the news? Joy when it seems we are being thrown off course? Falling headlong into one more pothole leads us to believe that all purpose has gone from life. The days are long, the nights are dark.

When my world crashed around me and my precious Pastor/Husband was gone in 6 seconds, I couldn’t cry and I couldn’t breathe. I could only play the words over and over in my mind; “widow-maker’s heart attack.” The road ahead was black and foreboding. I was no longer linked to him by ministry. My identity seemed to be stolen.

I stumbled on these words in the Book of James, (and I do mean stumbled); “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” At first, I could not wrap myself around that truth. I truly felt God was trying to trip me up. I wanted to sink into one of those potholes and never emerge. I tried to convince myself it was only for “brothers,” not me, a pastor and a pastor’s wife! Still, I found myself returning to those words in James; questioning, meditating, seeking to absorb the truth.

For days and weeks, I really didn’t seem to feel the presence of Jesus and to me, that was the most discouraging. I resorted to my most favorite prayer; “Jesus, give me a song in the night. Let me hear you singing!” (Zephaniah 3:17)…”He will joy over you with singing.” I also cried out to remind Him that He promised to be a husband to the husbandless. During one of those days, I recalled a lesson I learned from a kaleidoscope. When it is aimed toward the light, even a dark piece of jagged glass adds to the design.

Then, it came…”I will never leave you, in my arms I’ll hold you…with my love enfold you…I am your redeemer, I will care for you.” I couldn’t stop singing it. I taped it to my refrigerator. I rejoiced! At His feet I found joy unspeakable and full of glory.

I found people along the way further along in their journey than me. From them I gleaned food for mine. I found people just entering life’s rocky detour and I am now able to share crumbs of hope and joy from mine.

The roughness of the road before me is changing. I no longer focus on the gravel and my choice to choose joy has changed everything. I’m changed from being paralyzed by the past to savoring the joys around me: hearing the birds, opening the door to the sound of laughter from smiling grandchildren, a precious card in the mail; joy, sheer joy. I find joy in the present and chose not to worry about the future. I repeat the words one of my daughters spoke when she arrived at the house the evening of her dad’s passing, “Mom, God’s got this.”

I don’t know where your journey is taking you at this moment, I do know this; Scooping up the broken pieces of life and placing them in His kaleidoscope brings joy unspeakable and full of

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Editor’s Note: This column was contributed by Rev. Judi Wiegman who is the mother of seven grown children, one step-daughter and 21 grandchildren. Rev. Wiegman regularly speaks for women’s events and keeps a blog at jottingjudi.blogspot.com. She can also be reached at Scarletcrd7@yahoo.com and welcomes your emails.