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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

In All Circumstances

Humor In Chaos

Searching for Joy

In All Circumstances



Is Joy truly possible in all circumstances like St. Paul talks about in 1 Thessalonians 5 and James 1 and Philippians 4? Can we rejoice in all circumstances?



1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.



James 1: 2-3 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.



Yes. Once we understand that suffering is the path to joy, we can go all in. We can jump into the deep end of the potential pool. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.



Philippians 4: 4-9 tells how. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.



When I was at my lowest points, I held tight to the words on what to focus on. I looked for the good as much as I could. I wasn’t always able to see the good. I got better with practice.



We are being tested. Not with God throwing painful things at us to force us to see things His way. He is not sadistic.



We are here to learn to love and endure for each other in all circumstances. We are here to love as God loves us as much as our mortal beings are capable.



We all have the same purpose – to love. To love God with all we have and all we are, and to love each other as we love ourselves. Just as we cannot experience true joy without the experience of pain, we cannot experience pure love with the experience of deep loss.



Embrace the trauma. Work to heal from it. Have faith in the knowledge that we do not walk alone. Most of all, let God use it to work with you, for you, and through you. That is where true joy lives.



This is hope.



Faith, hope and love.



These three tiny words are what Christians spew around with little understanding of what they mean because they mean so much. I do it too, and I also lack the proper understanding. When it comes down to it, faith, hope and love have deeper meanings than we are capable of exhibiting. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for them.



Jesus tries to simplify it for our meager minds. Faith, the size of a mustard seed. That’s tiny. Hope, as Jesus says in Mark 5: 36 Do not fear, only believe. Love, Jesus simplifies the Ten Commandments into two in Matthew 22: 37-39 where He tells us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do those, we won’t break the original ten.



Jesus simplified the concept of the tools we need for finding joy.



Yes, it is possible. Yes, it is tangible. Yes, it is available. It’s right there. Can you see it?

If you can’t see it, the next time you are out walking in the city, look at the base of the trees you pass. See the large tree where the roots have busted through the pavement so the tree could grow? There it is.



Where did I find it?



It took me a long time. I was actively searching for it all the years I was severely ill. I only looked for faith, hope and love in the moments when things were bad. Not joy. I didn’t know yet to look for joy too when things were bad. At that time, I equated joy to happiness. Feelings of happiness were few and far between. Therefore, if joy wasn’t possible without happiness, then what was the point of searching for it when I was sick or sad or in pain?



I was becoming happy again when I was going into remission. I could feel my body making strides in the healing. The joy I had then! Except, it didn’t feel like happiness. It felt closer to relief. Or maybe release. Release of all the fear and anxiety from being sick.



During that time, I looked at my husband and said, “I am coming back!” I expected him to be joyful too. The look on his face perplexed me. He didn’t look happy or relieved. He looked scared. I thought maybe it was because I had been sick for so long that he didn’t think my health was sustainable. I thought, “This will get better. He will see. I am returning to me.” I was wrong. He chose not to share what was happening inside himself. Regardless of him, I was rediscovering joy.



All that joy drained away when he left. I didn’t know how to hold onto it or find it again rapidly. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.



It came to me slowly over the next year drowning myself in all things Christ and Church related. Revelation after revelation of what I was doing wrong in trying to be a happy, fulfilled person built up on the foundation of years of suffering through lupus and loneliness. If I had known where to look before, it wouldn’t have taken so terribly long.



And then, one day, it all came to a head. I was walking with my daughter in Santa Monica going to a coffee shop. I will talk more about this day in a later chapter. But, on the walk there, I was looking down at my feet to keep from tripping on the broken concrete from the roots of the huge trees that grew along the sidewalk. That’s when it hit me: what those trees had to grow through to reach their full potential. Boom! Joy struck. Prayers were answered in the quiet of my soul. I was transformed.



When trees break through concrete to grow, the concrete gets moved out of the way, not removed.



I recently went on a walk around a local lake and saw a tree growing out of a steep hillside. The tree trunk first reached out sideways, and then reached up. It was a large, healthy tree. It didn’t need the hillside to be made flat for it to grow. It grew under the conditions it was in even though those conditions were not in its control.



I finally understood how Old Testament Joseph was able to make the most of his prison experience. I finally understood the attitude change in Job when God reminded him that he had only a man’s perspective, not God’s.



That’s the day the circumstances of both my marriage and my health no longer mattered in my search for joy. My situation was still awful. I was still dealing with pain, anxiety, and loneliness. But I also had joy because I was able to see what I did have.



Joy had nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with me recognizing the gifts around me and in me.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!



Humor In Chaos


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