The Journey to Joy

Maria I. MorganBlog Archive, Understanding God's Plan

How is it possible to maintain joy when the trial you’re going through doesn’t seem to end? I’m honored to feature my friend Kelli Canfield as she addresses this difficult topic.

No stranger to the tough stuff of life, Kelli gives us a window into her heart as she wrestled with maintaining joy when diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Pull up a chair and read about the One at the center of Kelli’s joy.

The Journey to Joy

Guest Post by Kelli Canfield

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.James 1:2-4

My journey to joy, as in the real, true joy found in Christ, began at the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior. But it has been more recently, in the past six years that my path has become more specific and real. 

I remember at that time, trying to figure out what was going on in my body – why I had suddenly developed an alarming muscle weakness and difficulty breathing. 

I remember a few years after that point in life being handed a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, knowing it was a terminal illness. I remember feeling like my life at that point was literally falling apart. I tried to be positive and trust in the Lord in those early days. But inside, though I couldn’t verbalize it at the time, I struggled with immense grief and mourned the loss of the life I had pictured for myself and had been working so hard to achieve.

All joy?

I was reading in James at a particularly low point and remember really struggling with James 1:2. Was I really to count muscular dystrophy as all joy? Was I really to consider it a joy that all I hoped to be and do for God would never happen? How could I consider my world crashing in on me something over which to be joyful?

While I would like to sound super spiritual, I also have to admit that the verses following James’ encouragement to find joy in trials were of little motivation to me in the middle of that grief. I just could not wrap my mind or heart around it at the time. 

But since those dark days, I can say that God was so good, patient, and kind to me. He carried me through my doubts and struggles with tenderness and mercy. He held me up in His strength. He drew me with cords of love and taught me along the way.

Seeking joy

This journey has taught me that many times I seek joy in the wrong things.

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True, lasting joy is not found in circumstances, people, promises, or in ourselves.

The Bible warns us:

. . . it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.Psalm 118:8

Habakkuk was able to rejoice and find joy when everything was falling apart around him. His not-so-secret, secret, was to joy in the God of his salvation and not in his failing circumstances. He was able to say:

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.Habakkuk 3:17-18

True, lasting joy is found first in salvation. Galatians 5 reminds us that joy is fruit that the Spirit produces in the person who knows Christ. Joy comes from Christ’s presence and from knowing Him and His Word. Joy comes from abiding in Christ. We’re reminded:

Joy comes from Christ’s presence and from knowing Him and His Word.

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. . . in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.Psalm 16:11

True joy is birthed in us instantly at the moment of salvation. The Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. At salvation we have access to God and the joy that is found in knowing Him and who He is. Yet, very often we search for joy in things that don’t deliver lasting joy.

The habit of joy

Developing a habit of true joy is a journey the Lord will lead us on for the rest of our lives. It will take work on our part – trusting He will carry us along the way. 

I have not arrived, nor do I always implement the truths I have learned along this journey. There are still many days of struggling and begging God to teach me to find my joy in Him.  

I’m sure you have found the same to be true in your life. However, if you’re struggling right now and can’t seem to find joy, consider these truths and ask God to help you put them into practice in your life.

Accepting God’s control and following His path will make my life a beautiful reflection of Him.

Your turn

What step will you take today to develop the habit of joy in your life?

Can I pray for you?

Heavenly Father, thank You for redirecting our focus. True joy isn’t found in people or things – it’s found first of all in a relationship with You. Help us abide in You and submit to Your Holy Spirit one day at a time. We want the fruit of joy to be evident in our lives. Lead and guide us on this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Connect with Kelli

Kelli Canfield is a believer in and a follower of Jesus Christ. She’s the secretary at Vision Baptist Church, wife to Pastor Robert Canfield and mother to two precious girls, Charlotte and Annie. Kelli is also a passionate speaker and blogs at Women Behind the Scenes and His Strength My Weakness.