Joy has been with me my entire life…she gave birth to me, named me Jennifer Joy McGill, was sitting across from me the moment she entered heaven, and I carry her in my heart everywhere I go. My mother was an amazing woman, and I’m proud to say that most people who knew her say that I remind them so much of her. I am indeed my mother’s daughter! But for many years after she had passed away, I did not reflect much of her at all. I was 24 years old when I lost my Joy. Looking back on my first moments without her, when I wrapped my arms around my dad and he said, “…just pray…”, I closed my eyes, and it’s as if I didn’t open them for 6 years.
When I was 30, kneeling down in my bathroom, ready to join my mother, I instead rededicated my life to Jesus…and my eyes were opened. They were opened to the strength to start over in the grace of Jesus. They were opened to stepping outin faith and following God’s lead down a new path. And most miraculously, my eyes were opened to the true Joy of the Lord. I had always thought “joy” and “happiness” were synonymous, but biblical Joy is so much more!
“…for the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 ESV
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…” Psalm 16:11 ESV
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Psalm 126:5 ESV
I now know that we can have the Joy of the Lord no matter what the status of our situations or emotions are. The Bible says Joy is the Lord’sstrength, not giddiness! The Bible says Joy is the Lord’s presence, not his blessings or gifts. The Bible says that Joy is attainable even through our tears! And I believe that is because the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will always trump any loss or pain I can go through, as well as any accolade or accomplishment!
Through the process of losing Joy, losing myself, and losing almost all hope, I was able to experience the inconceivable gift of God’s mercy, a faithful and steady download of his sovereign Joy, to the point that now I am known as a famously joyous gal! Not only has God restored me to reflect my mother’s best again, but God has upgraded me to reflect the Joy of the Lord, through good times and bad, through exciting and boring, through sureness and doubt. And the most amazing thing is…Joy has been with me my entire life.