15 | Refuge of Joy
As Christmas approaches, maybe there are storms in your life weighing you down and holding you back from feeling the joy you see around you. Today, Becky takes us through her experience of health trouble and the refuge she placed in God, reminding us of the true and unfailing joy He gives.
Google helpfully defined joy for me as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. In reality joy in that sense is a feeling and emotion that you probably experience occasionally, but definitely not all day and I’m sure not all the time, and most certainly not in times of trouble.
My journey through the past 4 years hasn’t been the most straightforward. When I was 17, things were going swimmingly in that I was just absolutely loving life and playing a lot of hockey until one day this all changed. I woke up one morning with a serious hip problem, not able to walk, and in a whole ton of pain. This marked the start of a whole host of operations, medical investigations and treatments on my hip – none of which were particularly successful. I ultimately ended up having a 9-month period off school due to my hip problem, not a particularly ideal situation to be in when you’ve just started at a new school for sixth form. Since then I have journeyed through times of God intervening with miraculous highs of pain-free times and absolute lows with the discovery of a major kidney operation that needed urgent surgery, as well as terms like the big C being batted around. Even now I still have a chronic hip problem which is being managed better, although I have another operation in January.
Despite all this I can say through that particularly rough 9 months, and the 4 years since of continuing treatments and surgery that I felt joyful, and in joy I have found refuge in this storm. However, certainly not the joy defined like it was at the beginning of this blog - I didn’t always feel particularly happy or have great pleasure in being bed-bound and in a lot of pain! But the kind of joy the bible talks about I did, and still seek.
Kay Warren, a far wiser woman of God than me defined biblical joy in a way which just absolutely hits the spot:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
My journey through my time of ill-health was a time where I most certainly didn’t know what was going on or why, but I knew that there is someone Greater, who has it all in hand.
Health is just a part of my last 4 years where I have felt ‘in trouble’ and ‘oppressed’ by the enemy, however, I have chosen to cling to the truth in verse 10 of the passage:
“Those who know your name trust in You, for You, O LORD have never forsaken those who seek you.”
It was and is a daily decision I have to make to seek Him, particularly on the days which feel ‘stormier’ than others. I most definitely didn’t always, and still don’t, get this right but a couple of things I have found have helped me to trust in Him each day.
Worship is something which just amazes me. What an absolute honour it is to be able to come before Him in song, exactly as I am and see Him move. Declaring the truths of His love and faithfulness over myself in a congregational and individual setting, is a very practical way which helps me to lift my eyes from myself and my current situation to the One is above all and is oh so worthy of it all. The very next verse after the Psalm we are focussing this blog around is all about singing praises to God in response to what He has done, as if it is just an overflow of when we seek Him in the midst of hard times.
2. Surround yourself with those who really make you look up and seek Him.
I am so blessed to have a solid group of chrizzo gal pals who really do make me want to seek Jesus more, and on those lower days encouraged me that I really wasn’t, and am not alone.
My parents also are just absolute warriors of a men and woman of God. My poor health not only completely altered the course of my life, but also theirs. Expensive hospital bills, nearly 24/7 care and general emotional support to your fairly low daughter isn’t what they signed up to expect from their twee-nage daughter! But never once did they moan even when I took my frustration of the situation out on them but instead just loved me unconditionally – giving me just a tiny glimpse of the Great love the Father in Heaven has for me!
My storm and time if trouble has recently been my health, and for you your storm may be different and greater! Despite this, we know the same God in whom refuge can be found in the TRUE joy He gives regardless of all situations, for He really won’t ever forsake us!
Becky grew up in Cirencester, and is currently in her 2nd year at Nottingham University studying Geography. She's a huge fan of quality time spent with her family, pals and Jesus and has a particular skill in fitting in as many Christian camps into her summer as possible!