If there is any lesson I learned this week, it would be that my most valuable commodity is joy. How do I know? Because it is what the Enemy most targets in my life. The more joyful I am, the larger the target on my back. There is nothing that brings greater delight to Jesus or greater fury to the devil than a joyful heart, and much of its existence rests in our control.
This is probably one of the happiest times in my life – a full week with the knowledge that I am going to be married! And yet during this week I was downtrodden with fear and anxiety over pettiness. I puzzled and prayed over this and soon recognized a pattern. It is in the seasons of greatest joy when I struggle the most to be joyful; often the ones I love the most in the world are what Satan uses to cause me the greatest anxiety in order to rob me of peace and contentment.
It does make sense if viewed as a battle strategy. If Christ’s warriors are most effective when their hearts are filled with peace and overflow with rejoicing, wouldn’t our Enemy seek to render us ineffective by replacing our peace with anxiety and our rejoicing with despair? Who enjoys conversing with a pessimist or fellowshipping with a worrier? Who would want to enter into a personal relationship with an impersonal God, or believe in a helpless Savior?
It is true. Our response in the face of difficulty reflects the strength of our faith in Jesus. This week I truly struggled, yet I did experience the constant presence of my loving Savior and when I allowed myself to rest in His arms He rescued my joy and renewed my peace. In His strength I began to count my blessings and reflect on His character. Once again I was overwhelmed by His goodness and faithfulness. If one was to measure every fear or doubt against the attributes of God, one would quickly recognize how inconsequential those fears and doubts truly are.
This week was a week of review. Yes, trials come. Some are simply annoying, like a pebble in one’s shoe. Others are severely painful, like loss of good health or the ending of a dear relationship. Joy doesn’t mean we don’t experience trials; joy means we are recognizing Jesus in the midst of them.