And Now I Have Joy
a devotional by Kaylin Olson

When I was a kid, I loved to sing. (Disclaimer: that does not translate into “I was a good singer.”)
My mom would sing songs to wake us up in the morning to go to school, we had VHS sing along tapes, and at times I even made up my own songs as I played in our back yard. However, I remember one song in particular that I learned at VBS.

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where?)
down in my heart (where?)
Down in my heart
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay.”

I would run around singing this song, being my own little echo, long after the week of VBS ended. However, I did not know then the magnitude this song would have on my life as the years would pass and and the trials would come.

I have encountered trials just like most people– loss of loved ones, temptations and pressures, illnesses and so on. However, the trials I faced were very small in comparison to those of others. But, during what was supposed to be the most joyous time in the life I am incredibly blessed to live, came my toughest physical trial to date.

On August 16, 2015 I was asked to spend my life with my best friend, Luke. It was a fairytale proposal all the way around. But that fairytale came to an abrupt halt when I ended up in the ER just ten days later.  It was the start of a long battle with Lyme disease that would cripple me to the point of not being able to leave my bed for long periods of time. During this time, I felt like I was being robbed of my joy. After all, I was engaged to the man of my dreams! We should be out enjoying the warm weather, four wheeling, spending time with friends, having bonfires, going running, planning our wedding and the list could go on and on. But I was stuck inside, in more pain than I had ever experienced in my entire life while everyone else got to enjoy the fun things! And then on top of Lymes disease, came whip lash, thrush and kidney stones. So where was my joy?

I had spent months going to different doctors, and I was spending more time with nurses than my actual friends. I couldn’t wash my own hair or put on my own shoes without being in excruciating pain. I needed help getting in and out of cars and putting on my coat. I was miserable. The longer it took to diagnose, the more the disease progressed. But months passed and our loving God provided a great healing! I was so thankful. But my heart is prone to wonder, and as I looked back on that time of physical impairment, I felt robbed of joy. After all, taking daily visits to the ACU was not my original idea of quality time with my fiancé. But that’s when my mom reminded me of  the little girl who used to sing that song. -“I got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…”

I realized she was right. My joy doesn’t come from my health and it certainly doesn’t come from a worldly view of engagement and what it has to offer me. My joy is found in Christ alone. Therefore, when earthly things start to diminish, my joy does not have to go too!

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4 ESV

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:11-12 ESV

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 ESV

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Reflection Questions

*List biblical attributes of God.

*Now, when trials come, should your view of God’s sovereignty change?

*When you are walking through a trial, does it steal your joy and change your attitude?  If you said yes, what does the Bible tell us about where joy comes from?

*As a Christian, where is your hope found? Find a bible verse to reflect your answer. (I like 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

*Think of a trial you faced. Reflect on how you responded to that adversity and how you can better your respond next time.

A wise woman once told me, “God can take the most difficult of situations and make them precious.” When I was in the hospital and the nurses told me there was nothing more they could do for my pain, with tears streaming from my eyes I asked Luke to pray, and as God slowly eased my pain, I began to realize that because God turned His back on His Son in the garden, He will never turn His back on us. Jesus experienced the wrath of the Father, so we will experience His love. Jesus walked alone through the darkest of trials, so the Father will draw near to us during ours.

Praise His name. He is good!

In Christ,
Kaylin Olson