The topic of joy has been on my mind a lot lately....not necessarily happiness, but joy. There is a difference as most can tell you. Happiness is more defined by circumstance while joy is there in spite of circumstance. That's where today's random thought came from.
The other day as I was pulling out to go to work, the ground was white with frost and everything around was just gray....dead looking. Then I happened to see it - one yellow daffodil lifting its head toward the sun and a smile crept across my face. I don't know if I've ever thought of such a perfect representation of what joy is. When the world is in winter and all hope seems dead, there in the ground is a bulb, getting ready for its debut. You can't see it, but it's there, and when the time is right, that bulb will let the tender green shoots break the cold hard earth and lift toward the sun. It is a picture of joy - of hope. Joy is grounded in the knowledge that even though everything around us may seem wrong - dead even - that God is still in control. He still holds our days in His hands and His promises toward us are true. As I heard recently in a Bible study, it's not what I "feel" that's true - it's what God has said that is true. My feelings can lie. They can be affected by circumstance, by the way I feel, by what someone says to me, even by what I ate for lunch! But God's Word and His promises toward us do not change - ever! That is hope!
With these thoughts running through my mind as I continued to drive to work, I started looking for more daffodils - more reminders of God's love. I saw robins that actually brought a tear to my eye, flowers peeping up through frost, etc. Then I say something different. I saw an empty beer bottle. Trash. It was then that I realized the barren frost helped me be able to see other things as well. Because there was no real growth to camoflage it, I could see the things that SHOULDN'T be there as well. I started thinking of the times when things were tough and for the first time I saw stuff in my life that really shouldn't be there. I don't think I'd ever realized that the "winter" could serve in this way as well. When times are good, I don't seem to notice the "trash" buried in the tall grass and flowers...but when everything is lying dormant, then I can see the trash for what it is...and that would be the perfect time to get rid of it!
Yes, joy is more than happiness...it's that hope that God is still in control even when everything else seems out of control. He will never leave me, nor forsake me. He has plans for me...plans for a hope and a future. I pray that this day, you be able to hang on to God's promises and to find your moments of joy - your daffodils that give you hope....and while you're at it, keep an eye out for the trash. Now's the best time to remove it so that your joy has more room to grow.