Filled with joy

The Lord is my strength and shield. 
I trust him with all my heart. 
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. 
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. 
(Ps. 28:7)

I’ve been thinking about this thing called joy for quite some time. It’s been a long season of trying to figure out happiness versus joy. You see, for most of my life, happiness was my goal. How I felt was important and it weighed heavily on my day to day activities and how I viewed myself as a person.

I would seek out things that would elicit happiness. This could be material items, a scenic place to take photos or an intimate connection with someone, and although I would feel some emotion, the happy feeling would soon vanish and all I was left with was a dark cloud over my head. Troubles mounted in my life like a pent-up volcano and it ended up erupting. There had to be more to life than what I was pursuing. How could I have consistent happiness, and what was this thing called joy?

This brought me to a place of connection with God my Father who lovingly began to show me my value and his power in my weak emotional state. He began to show me that I could trust him with all my heart and he would help me through this journey. Even then, it felt like I was in a valley of misery. 

Starting small
Early on in my faith journey I read Psalm 28:7. It’s rather difficult to burst out in songs of thanksgiving when you are in a valley of trouble, I thought. And yet what I began to see is that this is where our songs need to sing out louder than ever. Sure, some of my troubles began to vanish the more I trusted God, but I still had struggles. I faced unimaginable pain in losing children through miscarriage and my wife becoming quite sick from a chronic illness; financial burdens weighed me down. My life began to feel like’s Job’s. So I sat still in the midst of all these realities and began to breathe deeply and give thanks. It started small, like a child singing a nursery song for the first time. It grew to a quartet, then a chamber choir until finally my thanksgiving was like a full ensemble. An orchestra with a majestic choir.

Songs of thanksgiving come from being aware of every moment and second of your life. Being mindful of the breath that I take, which reminds me that God has given me this exact moment to live and to allow him to be glorified in and through my life. Listening carefully to my neighbour and enjoying who they are is being thankful that God created us all in unique and wonderful ways and to celebrate this by bearing with one another’s differences in love. Calling out to God for help when the going gets tough and knowing that his help will come in his perfect timing. This posture of giving thanks isn’t always easy. Sometimes the full ensemble can diminish and become like that child again, just learning to sing, but at least there is a song.

The difficult experiences that we may face as believers is always the place where God wants to show up and be God. It is in these experiences where not only do we see God, but others see his manifest glory. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever. The Lord is our strength and shield. We can trust him with all our hearts. He helps us, and our hearts are filled with joy. The Lord gives us breath! Let us burst out into songs of thanksgiving. 
 

  • Kenny Warkentin after working several years as an urban missionary with Living Waters Canada and Exodus International is now an associate Pastor. Kenny is passionate about issues regarding relational wholeness, gender and sexuality and has written numerous columns on those issues as it pertains to the Body of Christ. He is married to Paula and they have a daughter Phoebe. Paula and Kenny are both avid artists and they have showcased their work in various venues. Paula is a spoken word poet and Kenny is a photographer and painter. The are passionate about marriage and travel and share their testimony throughout North America.

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