If you are anything like me (and I guess I’m hoping you are) you have experienced times in your life when you didn’t feel much like rejoicing. You may have times of pain, struggle, and overall feelings of utter failure, perhaps in multiple areas of your life. At times, for me, these times can come in waves, and although I know what the Bible says about joy and trust, it can be very difficult to do this!
Recently, I was listening to a student’s reflection on Joy, and it very much touched my heart. The following text is an excerpt from a reflection written and delivered by Junior Alaina Stellwagen and is used with her permission. You might remember that Alaina suffered injuries earlier this year due to a car accident. By God’s grace and mercy, she has come through that experience and been healed. She also spent some time in the hospital due to illness last year. She writes:
“Same as everyone else, I’ve had my fair share of hardships. While you are drowning underneath all your problems, it is unthinkable and virtually impossible to focus upon the light of your blessings and allow it to overpower the darkness of troubles. True joy is praising God in those moments where you feel like cursing Him. Being in the hospital as much as I have in the past year, I find myself in this position over and over again. I ask, ‘Why me, God? Haven’t I suffered enough already?’ I’ll admit I did not praise Him as much as I should have during these times. And yet, I found myself finding joy in the simple things, like life itself. Who knows the reason for my personal struggles, and the struggles of each individual? But God tells us, ‘I have a plan for you!’ See, joy, is more than simple happiness, it takes perseverance to remain in true joy at all times.”
Alaina does well to identify that life has some harsh realities, but that there is fullness of joy in Christ! In addition to being a good writer, Alaina is an amazing artist, and used a painting to describe pure joy. She goes on to describe that the figure in the painting is painted with darker tones symbolizing struggle; however, even though bearing the weight of difficulty, they are emitting joy!
What a great representation of pure joy, and to come back to the verse from Romans, that joy comes only from our hope and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the power of the Holy Spirit be in and with you so that you are filled with pure joy … regardless!
God’s blessings … and GO CADETS!
Following His Lead,