I have been stalking my dear friend Olivia's art... and I came across one that really caught my attention.
JOY by ~theliv on deviantART
As summer is quickly approaching, I have really been searching my heart in an effort to prepare myself for what God has in store for me. Joy-- it's all over the Bible. Paul, a man who endured prison and ship wrecks and ridicule, constantly reminds us to remain joyful despite our circumstances. This semester I have really been learning what true joy is. So many times, we feel like joy means to be happy. But it's so much more than that... I don't think Paul would tell us to be happy regardless: "My best friend died, but I have to be happy..." "I just failed a test, but I have to be happy." "I can't see where my life is heading and I am freaking out, but I have to be happy."
A wise man once told me that joy is an outward expression of an inward passion. It is finding satisfaction in where God has placed you, and understanding that He knows what He is doing. There will be times this summer where I feel sick and tired and distressed. I don't have to be happy about it... But I should remain joyful in the fact that I am resting in God's will. His timing is perfect and I can remain confident that He has me where He wants me.
Yet still... Joy is not something I can just generate on my own... especially when I'm hot and sweaty and in pain and emotionally exhausted. Especially when my 2nd-5th grade girls have completely taken every ounce of patience, joy, and understanding out of me. Philippians 3:1 says, "Whatever happens, may the Lord give you joy..." I can't be patient on my own. I can't be merciful and forgiving on my own. I can't be joyful. I can't even get out of bed on my own. When everything is drained, and I have nothing less, "may the Lord give me joy." I cannot be joyful without Him. He IS my joy. And thank goodness too, because if not, those poor girls this summer would hate me.