2011 was a hard year for me. In January 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of that year was then spent undergoing chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation therapy.
I had serious side effects to all of those, including pretty bad radiation burns that cut short the number of those sessions. I published a personal diary of those adventures at the time, and some since then. (www.BettesJournal.wordpress.com)
The Lord told me clearly at the beginning of these adventures to “put the unbelievers out of the room.” He meant, for me not to talk about the diagnosis to everyone, only to Christians who truly believed God’s word – who truly believed what Jesus said in John 10:10. I have an enemy out to kill me, who wants to steal my health and destroy my faith. But Jesus has come to give me life! Abundant life!
And so I didn’t tell many folks about the diagnosis or that blog, only several like-minded Christian friends who knew how to intercede according to the scriptures. No wishy-washy, 50-50 chance, fearful, doubtful, uncertain prayers were wanted. I got some of that kind nevertheless, but I also got many life-filled, love-filled, faith-confirming intercessory prayers too. Those were worth their weight in gold, believe me.
2011 was spent in a lot of Bible study, reading, and watching hundreds of miracle videos, preaching and teaching from evangelists, pastors, revivalists. It was spent filling my mind and soul and spirit with God. With his creative power, his life, his healing.
I didn’t publish many blog posts that year and ended the year with the post that follows: God’s joy, my strength. It was true then, it’s true now.
December 28, 2011
James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (NIV)
That verse doesn’t say that whatever is going on will feel joyful. Trials don’t feel joyful but despite that, we should act as though they did. It will strengthen our faith (and will certainly drive the enemy crazy too!)
Well, I know by my own experience that that’s easier said than done. This lesson is for me.
John 14:1 – Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled.” If Jesus said for us to do it, then we can do it. It is our job to prevent our heart from worrying.
Here’s one way: consider whatever is troubling us in the light of his power. His power, not ours. With the Holy Spirit living in us we can do it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
John 15:11 – Jesus said “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Can you imagine Jesus being joyful? Obviously he was. Luke 10:21 tells us that Jesus “rejoiced in the Spirit,” because he had sent out the seventy to minister in his name and they had returned successful.
What had he told the disciples? Here are some of those things:
- John 15:7 – “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”
- John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
- John 16:23 – “My father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
- John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Set you free in the Greek means to ‘free you’, make you delivered, at liberty, free from bondage. Many people misquote those verses by leaving out the first sentence. But it’s a prerequisite for the second sentence — only if you are really a disciple of Jesus, holding to his teachings, will you know the truth and be made free.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Not your joy, God’s joy. They could be strong now because God was joyful over them. He wanted them to be joyful too!
The people had returned from years of captivity in Babylon. On this day they were assembled in Jerusalem to hear God’s word read for the first time in a long time, and as they heard and understood it they began to weep.
But Ezra and Nehemiah told them not to weep, not to mourn but to celebrate. This was a sacred day! They were being given back their lineage, their family tree and the temple itself. They were moving back into and living in the city of Jerusalem as their home. They could once again worship in God’s temple. God was joyful about that!
Zephaniah 3:19 says, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (KJV)
Some of these words have interesting definitions in the original language:
Save: Deliver, defend, rescue, avenge; to be open, wide, free, safe.
Rejoice: To be bright, cheerful, glad; make mirth.
Joy (noun): Glee, mirth, pleasure, gladness.
Joy (verb): To spin around, rejoice.
Rest: To keep silent (secrecy); to let alone. God’s love keeps our sins hidden. What a wonderful thought!
Singing: Shout, cry, a creaking or shrill sound, triumph. This isn’t a sweet harmonious melody, this is the shout of the warrior, the triumphant battle cry.
Can you imagine Father God being full of this kind of joy? Twirling around and shouting in triumph over his people? He did, and he still does.
In John 17:13, as Jesus faced his arrest and crucifixion, he prayed this for the disciples: “… that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.” That was some kind of joy!
Despite the ordeal facing him, that wasn’t a prayer born out of grief but triumph! God’s joy is triumphant, a mirth-filled celebration of victory no matter what the circumstances look like.
That’s God’s joy; Jesus’ joy!
I certainly need it. We all need it and we can have it — it’s one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!