I was riding in the car the other day and I was yelling on the inside. I think mom’s or people in general tend to do this a lot. On the inside I can yell, get angry, say my true opinion, tell God life is unfair, loose my joy all while smiling on the outside driving the minivan. I am not sure why we do it other than we don’t want everyone to see we don’t have all our stuff together.
So as I pulled down the road yelling very loudly internally, a sound broke through my internal noise. I heard my 7 year old daughter singing along to the radio, “In the darkness I’ll dance and the shadow I’ll sing. The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
I could not get this thought out of my head… Do I have joy in the darkness? Looking back at my little girl singing aimlessly away I remembered something…
My 7 year old daughter’s first and middle name means Joy. When I found out I was pregnant with her I cried. Not for lack of loving babies or wanting to grow our family, but mostly because I just put away the maternity clothes from our first daughter a few months before. I had just gotten back into my jeans when surprise. (she is a wonderful surprise) So I was praying that God would speak joy over me as I went through this pregnancy. I also had lost a baby and then had a really hard pregnancy with her sister, so there was a lot of fear and I was really scared. In a moment of tears I felt God tell me that this baby would bring joy to many and it would be over flowing. Thus when we found out it was a girl we named her Abigail which means Joy of the Father. We then had to decide what to give her for a middle name. Three generations of women in my family have the same middle name of Joy, including myself, so our 2nd baby girl was given the same. We call her “double joy” a lot for this reason.
Sitting in the back seat singing away was a little person who did not see my inward struggle. She doesn’t see the times I yell out to God that I feel alone or discouraged. She just sees the face of someone who loves her, but I know the joy that lacks within and so does my Heavenly Father.
He knows every dark place, every hurt or pain. He hears my inward cry and looks at me in my inward honesty. And yet… He still loves me…
But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:11
When I am at my weakest, He is at His strongest. When I can’t find joy in the darkness, He gives me a light to direct my path. When I have no joy in my suffering, He says he will never leave me. When I don’t see anything changing, He says “behold I make all things new.”
My little girl probably doesn’t completely understand the words that she was singing, but I do. It means I will dance despite my circumstances. It means I will choose joy even in my greatest sorrow, but ultimately it means I will continue to praise God regardless…
“Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for.”
Francis Chan, Crazy Love
If I am praising God then I hear my own whiny voice less and less. If I am singing on the inside and thanking Him for His goodness then I hear less of my inward yelling. Most of all, if I can clean out the internal noise then I can hear His voice clearer.
Another thing I realized as I looked in the rear view mirror was that I have to look for “visual” joys in my life. Every time I see her smile, those freckles and her laugh it is a visual reminder to me that God gave me joy in the midst of a really scary time. I need to look for joy in the dark places and in those see the faithfulness of God.
Maybe you have been in those dark places, maybe you are there now. No one will carry joy into the darkness to you – you have to choose and look for it. We have to remember, even in the darkest and loneliest moments of our life, that God is good and He has good things in store for us. It is something that I have to continue to remember…
“In the darkness I’ll dance and the shadow I’ll sing. The joy of the Lord is my strength.”