Devotional 3/27/2020- Fruit of the Spirit Part 3

Another fruit of the Spirit is joy.  And joy can feel odd to talk about during a global pandemic.  But what we know about spiritual joy is that it is more than an emotion and it is beyond what this world can touch.  

Joy makes me think of my dog Izzy.  Even though she died two years ago, she is still a joy in my life. 

I got Izzy from the Jackson MS pound in October 2017.  I saw her picture on line, knew that was the dog for me and left work in the middle of the day to go get her.  When I arrived at the pound, Izzy was out playing with a volunteer and they offered to bring her in so I could meet her.  I said that we could just go on and do the paperwork first because I had no doubt she was the dog for me. 

I do not honestly know what made me so sure.  I simply knew. Izzy was meant for me and I was meant for Izzy.  And that turned out to be absolutely true.  I often tell my husband that Izzy was my soul mate.  He agrees!  We were simply written in the stars. 

Yet I cannot say there were not days of difficulty as we joined our lives.  Izzy had great anxiety about being left alone.  And she dealt with it by stress chewing.  She ate books, clothes, DVDs.  She ate a loveseat down to the springs.  She ate my end  tables (they were ugly so whatever on that).  She ate the flooring and the door molding. Needless to say I did not ask for my deposit back when we left that apartment. 

And this behavior left me mad, sad and frustrated.  It was so hard to figure out how to make this work.  I did not have much money to replace all the things she was destroying.  I used to joke with my mom that Izzy was helping me to be less materialistic.  But truthfully it was really hard and I really struggled in that season. 

However, as crazy as it was it never once touched my joy of having Izzy in my life.  My then boyfriend could not understand why I would not just take her back to the pound.  She actually became one of the wedges in our relationship that led to our break-up. He saw all the issues she made, the stress and the cost.  And I was not ignorant of those.  But the joy of having her put all those other troubles in perspective.  They were not barriers to our relationship, they were just problems I had to work out.  And no matter my current frustration level, the connection we had brought a joy that could not be touched by any situation.  

And this is how spiritual joy found in God should be in our lives.  Joy is not reserved for times when everything is going right or our way.  Joy is for all times because it is not impacted by current situations.  This is the joy from knowing God, knowing God's love, striving to live in God's way, and from always living out the commandments to love God and to love others. And none of this can be touched by anything of this world.  In fact this joy makes situations we encounter to be viewed not as life ruining events but by times to persevere through, to counter as best we can, and to grow in. 

This is a hard time in our communities and our lives.  There is no doubt.  But it should not touch our joy because if our joy is based in God then it is not impacted because God has not changed!  God remains our loving Creator, our grace-filled Redeemer, and our strong Sustainer.  

Joy has already come up in other devotions that we have shared.  Verses like Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and so many more speak of the joy we are to have in God.  

I invite all of us today to turn to 1 Peter 1:1-9.  Let these words, written so long ago, speak to you today.  Take the time today to make sure you are placing your joy's foundation in God and let nothing shake that joy.  And to take the time to pray thankgivings to God that our joy is in God, not in this world. 

With Joy, 

Beth