In the early morning I love to spend time in God's Word. As I am having my devotions I enjoy watching the darkness outside turn to light. Morning is one of my favorite times of the day. Sometimes the morning awakens with a brilliant sunrise. More often, it is a more gentle awakening with light becoming more and more evident in the lower sky.
The psalmist said in Psalm 143:8-9, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way that I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You." David, the Psalmist, was looking to the Lord for light and guidance in His life struggles.
Even though I enjoy the beauty of early morning, I also sometimes I struggle to wake up to a new day with its issues and problems. Currently I have a sister with a terminal illness. This illness with its prognosis that she is facing breaks my heart. I was able to visit her and other family members about a week ago. My family members live about 500 miles away. I can testify that my sister's faith remains strong and is fixed on the Lord. Our time together was one of sharing burdens and grief, but also joy and gratitude. As my pastor recently said lament often comes before gratitude, and they often comingle together.
I have other struggles and laments in my life as well. Yet spending time in God's Word and watching the new day unfold always reminds me of the joy the Lord wants me to experience in spite of life's struggles and sometimes because of them.
The night before Jesus went on the cross He spoke to His disciples of the joy He wanted them to experience. That joy is found only in the Lord and not in the things, circumstances, or even people of this world. Jesus said to His disciples that they would find joy in Him alone. This is true of His disciples today, as well. Jesus also said that no one will be able to take away our joy (John 16:22b). He further said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). Jesus said that He promised the things He did before He died, "that they may have the full measure of My joy within them." (John 17:13b) Jesus wants us to have overflowing abundant joy in Him even in the face of obstacles and deep trials.
With His joy we can live with courage and with inner confidence. We can't produce this confidence in ourselves. It can only come by abiding in Him and by the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus called Himself the Vine and called us His branches. He said, "I am the true vine---Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." (John 15:1-4).
Joy can be found in Him in spite of circumstances! Joy can be found only in abiding in Him! Joy can be found only in seeking His glory and living for Him. Joy can be found in Him in the deepest night of trials and by rejoicing in His light!