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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Blessedness of Answered Prayers…

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
 For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalms 30:4-5 (NIV)

I find joy in unexpected places. Joy steals in, wrestling us out of the hands of desperation. Wrestling us back from fractured hopes. Wrestling us back from what we think are broken dreams. You see, each of us will endure "hard times but we were made to dwell in joy." Joy is largely beyond our control. 

Nature insists of keeping faith; never giving up.
My daffodils will bloom, even through snow, or die trying.
This is the blessedness of faith, and of answered prayers.
I was captivated by joy the moment My Beloved placed a tiny baby girl in my arms for the first time. The baby I never expected to carry and deliver after fibroids and a miscarriage.  The baby that, for all the words in my mouth, for all the words in my head, for all the words in my heart, rendered me speechless, as did her brother upon his arrival 3 years later. Joy stole my sorrow and installed instead, love.

I could list reasons to be unhappy; discontent; stilted; afraid; discouraged, but none of them steal joy when it comes. Joy steals in, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes blowing the doors down and the walls apart. Unbidden, uninvited, staying as a reminder of its divinity, its existence beyond our control, joy is a blessing to be treasured. Joy is a gift from God. 

Any wonder why I smile? Any wonder why, at the hardest times in my life I insist on being encouraged, being encouraging -absolutely certain that God is reminding me, not only that He loves us all, but that He sends joy in many forms, my beloved husband, who is great to have around when things are good but ABSOLUTELY INDESPENSIBLE when things feel scary and dismal and awful, a BFF, a Gayle AND a buddy who promises that I can call her anytime I need her, whose voice (as yet) I’ve never even heard? Joy in unanticipated messages of encouragement, for offers of prayer and the extending of friendships right in my neighborhood and right across the country? Joy that confirms not just that everything is going to be alright, but that there is a promise, and a hope, and that while it might feel like I’m always weeping and it’s always night, the reality is that joy is not only coming in the morning, but that the dawn quickly approaches.

This is what comes of embracing God-sized dreams. This is my time of rediscovery. I am reborn, refined, re-imagined. Remember Jeremiah 29:11? From the NIV, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Very often, this scripture is offered as encouragement and a reminder of the promise that God intends to do good in your life.  I don’t disagree, but I’ve always been interested in context, and I am disinclined to believe that anything is ever that simple. When you look a little bit deeper, the letter from Jeremiah is more like fuel for the journey, and a reminder that there is work for us to do, if you intend to arrive at the land of “milk and honey,” if you ever plan on escaping your wilderness. If you read before and after verse 11, you get that the people of God are subject to judgment at the moment for the purposes of refining, so that they may conform to the plans He has. 

According to a study guide published by “Walk with the Word Church,” when we suffer setbacks, though we have blessings ahead of us, God “is not simply “erasing” everything and pretending nothing happened. Becoming what God intends involves a personal commitment of faithfulness and obedience to His Word and ways on our part.” It might just hurt to birth a God-Sized Dream, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway.

Finally, I hope this serves as a reminder that when your eyes are open, God is everywhere; in sunlight breaking through clouds after yet another storm, in the deep brown eyes of a puppy way too big to be a lap dog but still adorably, eternally my baby, in people you might’ve walked past before who now know you and greet you with genuine warmth just when you’re feeling like a smile would really do you good, or, hidden deep within the ground, desperately trying to break forth, despite snow.  God is everywhere, liberally dispensing joy.  And just when you were really struggling to convince yourself, there is it…evidence that God is good.

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