The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

That's the JOY of the LORD. Not the joy of Jenna. And not the joy of the world.

Things have been good. Not because of me or because life has suddenly stopped having problems. But because I have had so much truth spoken to me by loved ones and more importantly God here recently. As we walk this path, this road of life, there will be scary things on the way. There will be hard things. There will be times when you will want to just quit.

BUT the joy of the Lord is our strength.

This last year has been one of the hardest of my life for so many different reasons. Including but not limited to ... moving out of my parent's house, going it alone in a brand new city especially one as big as NOLA, financial hardships, work stress, extra jobs, health/weight issues, personal struggles, and all the other regular stressors in my life. 

Throw on top of that my mom called me on April 22 to tell me that her annual mammogram came back with abnormal results aka cancer. I already know Jan is going to read this, so I might as well just specifically address her while I'm at it. Jan, you scared the crap out of me. You are my best friend. Imagining life without you was unbearable. I know that was extreme, and I know that nothing had been confirmed whatsoever. But in that moment, the world stopped spinning. It was like everything froze. I wanted to be strong for you and allow you to not have to be strong for all of us, but I was dying on the inside.

I know what you're all thinking.Where was my joy then? Where was my strength then? Being a Christian is not a get-out-of-hard-times-free card. It was an immediate get on my knees and pray moment. I'm not saying that I felt like jumping for joy, because I didn't, but amidst the million other stressors in my head, life went on. Some may have read my post about one day and while it wasn't directly pertaining to this, it was part of my thoughts when writing it. Everything changed in that moment. The way I looked at the world and my surroundings were different. Nothing took my mind off of our new potential reality. And nothing seemed as important as it did in light of the news. Although my world had changed, God had not.

It was in the following weeks that I had to completely surrender the fear, the unknown, the anxiety, the everything. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Did it get me through those insanely hard moments? Most definitely. With each hard conversation or day of waiting for another test/result, God showed me what it looked like to find my joy in him. If it had been up to me, I would've crawled in my bed, pulled the covers over my head, and hidden from the world.

Realizing my joy could only come from the Lord gave me the strength I needed to keep going. To wake up the next day. Oh the comfort and peace I found in Nehemiah 8:10b. "And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" {NIV}. You may call it irony, but I call it divine planning ... each year as I pick out my planner for the next year, I prayerfully choose a verse to put on my cover as a type of goal/year/encouragement verse. No surprise what it was:

To conclude the story: Despite the indicators and the signs pointing to it being cancer, all ending results/tests came back all clear. Praise the Lord. But can I also say that had it been cancer like so many other families face on a daily basis, do you know what my response would have been? Praise the Lord. I can tell you that Jan dittos those feelings as well. We trust in a God who is bigger than cancer, so I say again, Praise the Lord.