LENT Day 33 – Joy

You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness. – John 16

There was a time in my life where I was going through a very hard time.  It was the first time I realized without a doubt that I had depression and anxiety.  At first I tried to hide it from family and friends because that is what I had always done.  I kept it inside and just suffered in private.  Soon enough it would go away as it always had done since I was about 16 years old when it first happened.

But for some reason, this time was different.  It was so dark and so deep.  I felt like I was drowning.  My anxiety heightened and most days I felt it hard to breath.  I would wake in the morning not because I wanted to start my day, but because I had to continue to mother my children and prepare for work.  I would spend my days waiting for the moment when I could crawl back into bed because the thoughts that ran through my head only told me that I was a terrible and horrible person.  I couldn’t eat and felt like the life was being sucked out of me.  This made me irritable, angry, and sad.  So very sad.  Before bed I would go in the shower and just cry.  And I would beg God to take away the sadness and make me feel better like I always had before.

Within a few months I knew I needed help.  I told my husband what was happening and I called a therapist and started going once a week.  With those weekly sessions, my symptoms eventually lessened over time.  I felt more like myself.  I felt less sad and found more reasons to smile.  Until one day I woke up and felt the joy back in my heart.

I wish I could tell you this never happened again, but it still does.  It will creep back into my life slowly but surly if I don’t pay attention to it.  I have to keep vigilant to know when I need to go to therapy, get back to the gym, or re-evaluate my choices.   All the things that help me get back on track, but that took a long time to figure out.

“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it.  But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth.   This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain.  The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar.  When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.  You’ll no longer be so full of questions.

“This is what I want you to do:  Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you.  Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you.  Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!”

I have experienced extreme sadness that turned into joy.  That joy came back by the grace of God and the time I took to figure it out.  I don’t want that joy to ever be robbed from me again.  My faith is the same.  When my husband and I decided to make God the center of our lives there was a peace and joy that descended on our family.  One that didn’t come from the things we had or the places we traveled or the things we did.  It strictly came from God and wasn’t anything that could be taken from us.

Am I glad that I went through such a deeply, dark time in my life?  No.  But it is something I wouldn’t change because it taught me the tools I needed to survive in the future.  It taught me to be graceful and less judging of others – who’s stories I do not know.  It showed me how strong my faith was, because God is the one thing I turned to all day, every day.  It was God I prayed to when I fell to my knees when I didn’t think I’d make it through the day.  It was God I begged to every night in the shower.  It was Jesus that was there holding me fast and wiping my tears…every. single.day.  It was my faith that pushed me forward and helped me reach that pure joy that made my soul feel whole again.  It was Jesus disciples that said it best in our reading today.  Meditate on these words my friends because Jesus IS the answer to all joy!

His disciples said, “Finally!  You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk – no more figures of speech.  Now we know that you know everything –  it all comes together in you.”

STUDY – John 16 (Joy Like a River Overflowing) – The Message Bible
That stirred up a hornet’s nest of questions among the disciples:  “What’s he talking about:  ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’?  And, ‘Because I’m on my way to the Father’?  What is this ‘day or so’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”
Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’?  Then fix this firmly in your minds:  You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party.  You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.
“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it.  But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth.  This new life in the world wipes out memory of  the pain.  The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar.  When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.  You’ll no longer be so full of questions.
“This is what I want you to do:  Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you.  Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you.  Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!
“I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things.  Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language.  Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you.  I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf.  I won’t need to.  Because you’ve gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly.  First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father.”
His disciples said, “Finally!  You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk – no more figures of speech.  Now we know everything – it all comes together in you.  You won’t have to put up with our questions anymore.  We’re convinced you came from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe?  In fact, you’re about to make a run for it – saving your own skins and abandoning me.  But I’m not abandoned.  The Father is with me.  I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.  In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.  But take heart!  I’ve conquered the world.”

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