Conditional Joy

I took a little hiatus last week for the sake of a lovely little stomach flu that seems to be working its way around our area. Just when I was feeling a lot better, whammo, back to square one.  But I suppose it was good for something. It got me thinking about where my joy comes from.

Let me ask you a simple question.  What’s required, so you can have joy? What’s that last thing you need before you’re truly happy?

For the past 4 months, my answer to this question would have been health.  I felt the worst I’ve ever felt. My post surgery recovery for several months was nothing compared to this. I’d rather eat baby food and use an electric shopping cart than deal with constant, debilitating morning sickness.

So when I allowed myself to despair, to feel miserable, joyless, hopeless, the one thing I anticipated making me happier was an improvement in my health.  To feel “normal” again, that’s all I wanted.  Then I could be happy.

I confessed to Dan that I’d make a horrible invalid.  My attitude was all wrong.

I occasionally return to the book of James and the portions I’ve memorized, trying to keep them fresh. And last week, I got convicted by the second verse: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

I wasn’t counting my health trial as joy.  I saw it as an obstacle to joy.

But real joy comes from Jesus.  It’s one of those fruits of his Spirit, a gift to believers who trust in him (Galatians 5:22).  We find our complete and full joy in God alone: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

And what’s left, those little things that we “need” to bring us joy.  For me, it was health. You might answer that question with “a new house,” “a good husband,” “retirement,” or “more money.” But those things, when put in the place of God, the real joy giver, are idols.

When I made my health the one condition of my joy, I was making my health an idol.  I replaced the true joy giving God with a pathetic replacement.  Why would I settle for health when I could have joy, abundant and complete?

Why would you settle?


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I like Mike Bickle’s teaching on the five things people believe will finally make them happy: (1) Finances, (2) Vital Relationships, (3) Health and/or Appearance, (4) Spiritual Attainment and (5) Ministry.

    Most people believe that if all five of these things are finally worked out, happiness will follow.But of course, we always have a problem with one or two of them at all times.

    Bickle states, like you did, that our happiness must come because we are loved by God and a lover of God.

    Great post. Pray that you are feeling better.

  2. Precious lesson learned, and unfortunately, one you will most likely have to draw on again and again and again.

    One verse I love when things aren’t going “my way” is the example of the Lord Jesus, “For the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Father.” The joy before us is the joy of heaven. We can endure anthing when we fix our eyes on Him, suffering as He did, and waiting for the time when life’s trials will seem so small.

    But, compared to your surgery, I LOVE the reason you are suffering. 🙂 Praying for good health!

  3. After almost 60 years of living, I have found that abiding in Christ is the only source of real joy. That’s very easy to say and not so easy to learn how to do, not at the deepest levels. Aging seems to help, or so it has been with me anyway. I’ve been reading Andrew Murray’s “Abide in Christ” the past couple of months…as a morning devotional study. It is based on John 15. Wonderful, wonderful.

    Not everyone has an easy time with pregnancy, unfortunately. I add my prayer to the others that you will be feeling even better than normal very soon!

  4. I just got over the same thing. Yuck. I hope your baby stayed well through it? These sort of things are always more worrisome in pregnant gals.

    Through the ordeal I learned a lot about myself, too. I tend to dramatize my sickness, which I am not proud of 😦

    God also reminded me of a lot of things I had to be thankful for: that I was at home, in my own bed; a husband who rubbed my back while I had my head over the toilet :); time to rest and think, with nothing else I could do, that the worst of it was over in 24 hrs, that I didn’t have to go to the ER–these are just practical things, but the list continues. I realized how gracious God is to me in the details of my life.

    And in the end, I’m thankful that my little son stayed healthy through the whole thing.

    AL: Was there a young mom in Seattle who wasn’t hit with it? Dr. Dan kept an eye on me and the little guy/gal, and all seems to be well. My temp didn’t get too high, thankfully. The timing was so not fun. Just when I stop throwing up every day, I go back to how it was a couple months ago. When I figured out it was a bug and not just a new stage of the pregnancy, boy was I thankful!

  5. Great insights Amy. Thank you for allowing God to teach you and then sharing it with us. We’ve been learning a lot about idols in our own lives lately – even things like ministry, where we worship, where we serve, etc. This is such a good lesson for us. Thanks,

    ross and taya

  6. Personally it brings me great joy to know that we are called to pray without ceasing and that St. Paul admonishes women NOT to pray with uncovered heads.

    Talk about marching orders to give into my hat obsession…makes me happy for sure, and affirms to me that God loves hats every much as I do.

    AL: Ah Jill. I can tell that the hat bug is in full force! I must say, those pretty spring hats you’ve been featuring lately are quite tempting!

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