Welcome to July! This month we will study the second Fruit of the Spirit–JOY. Where does JOY originate? Deep in our salvation, placed there by our Savior the moment we say YES to Jesus. JOY is a fruit that grows out of the trials in our lives–quite a paradox that this spiritual fruit is a product of hardship and suffering. This week we will mine out these precious diamonds and rejoice in this priceless gift from God.
Memory Verse: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV).
Are happiness and joy the same thing?
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of happiness is “A state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” Happiness lives in our souls and is based on fickle feelings, emotions, and changing circumstances. This temporary fix is the best the world can offer.
JOY, on the other hand, doesn’t come from the world. God lovingly plants it in our spirits the moment we become His through salvation. Just as our salvation is permanent, so is our JOY.
In today’s reading, the prophet Habakkuk cries out to God over witnessing the dreaded arrival of the Chaldeans, godless destroyers who have come to conquer and plunder Israel. He pleads with God over how long God will look on their evil and not do anything to stop it (Habakkuk 1:2-4; 12-17 NKJV).
God’s response is that He is in control of evil and not to fret. In time, they (the Chaldeans) will pay the price. (1:11). The Lord declares to Habakkuk that the day of retribution will certainly come, as it’s an appointed time for which to patiently wait. In the meantime, the righteous should live by their faith. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4 NKJV).
Before March of this year, I suppose we all casually regarded our normal lives without much thought of interruption. We may have planned for spring and summer sports, made reservations for summer vacation, and anticipated the end of the school year. We filled out our calendars with church and social events, camp for the kids, family gatherings, and routine doctor and dentist visits. Twenty-twenty was going to be the best year yet.
Out of the blue, the Pandemic hit, and very little has remained the same. How we longingly ache for those daily routines of freedom that have been frozen in time. Some of us may have lost a great deal–health, loved ones, or livelihood. We have lost the freedom to congregate and to breathe without a mask. When will we be able to get back to our normal lives and feel safe again?
Israel experienced a devastating attack from her enemies, paralleling our own suffering. Just as some politicians have neutered police protection and given protection to protesters to burn and loot, so God allowed the Chaldeans to destroy and plunder Israel. The prophet Habakkuk cried out to God to understand why He allowed this destruction.
O Lord, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!‘
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.Habukkuk 1:2-4 NKJV
We, too, cry out for God’s justice, mercy, and His hand to reverse our situation. We plead with our God, who is too holy to look on evil, and ask Him how He can allow these things to happen.
How did God answer the prophet? “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you” (Habukkuk 1:5 NKJV). God proceeded to describe the godless and lawless Chaldeans, coming to seize the land. Although Israel couldn’t do one thing to stop it, God promised that these violent men would be accountable and would pay the price for their evil deeds. Although this act of violence made no sense to Habakkuk, God assured him He was working a plan that he would understand later.
After Habakkuk pleaded with God one last time to intervene and stop the invasion, God gave him the key for how to live through those days of devastation. These words apply to us in our helpless days as well.
Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.’
‘Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.‘Habakkuk 2:2-4 NKJV
What should be our response to God? The answer is the secret to finding JOY during trials. JOY is our spirit’s response when we believe and trust God for our future. We can trust Him to punish our enemies, establish us in His righteousness, and bring justice on earth. His timing is perfect, and we must patiently wait for it as we live by our faith.
Let’s meditate on Habakkuk’s ending prayer for this key to mining JOY out of the soil of trials:
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV
No matter our circumstances, JOY is planted deep in our spirits. Like Habakkuk, we can mine JOY out of our salvation and rejoice in the Lord–in spite of the trials we may experience. God will make us sure-footed and guide us safely along narrow, mountainous paths. Isn’t God so good!
How are you mining JOY out of your trials?
Dear Heavenly Father, Let us remember that our lives aren’t spiraling out of control when we face the trials of these days, but You are at the helm. May we trust You and not despair. Teach us to choose to rejoice in our trials and to draw joy from our wells of salvation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16 KJV.
Copyright 2020: Finding JOY in Trials: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved
Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, is a Texan transplant for thirty-five years and counting. Retired from a teaching career, she writes for the Lord, edits fiction, and speaks on Christian topics.
Karen is a Senior Editor, Bible Study Writer, and devotion writer for VineWords: Devotions and More. She is the Co-Editor and a contributing author for Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing).
Karen holds a B.S. and M.Ed. in Secondary Education with majors in English and French. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
Karen’s first novella, published in an anthology, became the springboard for Desire’s Promise and A Perfect Fit. Blogging led her to Inspired Prompts Blog, then Heart “wings” Ministry where she served as Leader for the Front Porch Bible Study Series. Some of her blog posts are also published in Heart“wings” Devotional, as well as in other ministries and blogs.
Currently, she is revising her Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study for publication. Her work-in-progress is a memoir about her “Judas Experience,” a celebration of God’s supernatural deliverance from the enemy’s kiss of deception.
Passionate about how to find God’s peace through life’s storms, she blogs at Touched by Him, her ministry blog.
Karen loves to cook, entertain, and enjoy life with her two adult daughters and her amazing 98-year-old mother.
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