It's been encouraging to get to read through these "Old Papers" of my mom's, 20+ years after she wrote them, and 16+ years after her early death. Below is the conclusion of the talk she gave on Suffering and Joy to a group of women at a retreat in 1986- I've been posting them serially under "Old Papers". I hope someone else finds these words encouraging as well.
So What Are You Going To Do About The Joy?
First of all get it. We talked about the first step--that of putting on Christ. Then what?
Look for it everywhere and in everything.
Two weeks ago in "Snoopy" Lucy was counseling Charlie Brown in her out-patient clinic. She was holding Charlie Brown's cloud, turning it around and around. She said, "Yes, every cloud has a silver lining." She turned it around again and said, "But you, Charlie Brown, have a defective cloud." Not so. You just have to look for joy a little harder.
Oh, it is easy to have joy when things are going good. The kids are well, yours and your husband's jobs are going good. Joy abounds then.
That about when it isn't? Then where do you find joy?
That is when one may want to have a treasure hunt. Hunt until you find something in the situation that gives joy.
You may have to go to far limits to find joy.
Joseph found treasure in his situation. He was hated, mistreated and sold into slavery by his brothers. Then the good in Potiphar's house was followed by being cast into prison. Finally he became a person of extreme power when he was made ruler of Egypt. But he says in Genesis 50:20 to his brothers, "You meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today." All his family enjoyed his treasure.
My mother was very ill for two weeks before she died in 1988. My four sisters, my brother and I were all there in Texas together without our spouses. That was a first for us. We had always had husbands, kids, or someone else around. We fellow-shipped, cried and prayed together. It was a real bonding time that we will always remember with joy. Particularly for me. I am the youngest of the family and have always lived in the Northeast seeing them only once a year at most. So my mom's death became a precious memory along with the sad.
I didn't have to hunt too long for the treasure Wednesday morning. I was making coffee in the kitchen while Jim and a guest were showering and shaving. The water started dripping down on the kitchen cabinet from the upstairs guest bath room. Made a mess but now the Seminary will have to replace the telephone booth style 1930 shower stall with something a lot better.
I hate to exercise... I fell down 4 stairs and it hurt. Still hurts, but I can't exercise or vacuum. Some Treasure.
I would still rather have my son alive at 20 in his sophomore year at college. I would rather be paying college tuition. But it would be dishonest of me to say that Jim and I don't enjoy the freedom of having finished that. One treasure for us is the freedom earlier than we had expected.
Does this sound crude to you? Far fetched? Straining to find something good in bad? Why not. We got the bad without any wish or desire of our own. We should find joy anywhere we can.
One of my sister' eldest daughters was killed in a car wreck when she was 30. My niece and her mom had had many bad times. At one time when my niece was 25, my sister had had to say, "You can't live in our house any more because you are a disruptive influence on your younger sisters." God was good and healed the relationship between my sister and my niece. God pulled her back to a faithful relationship with Him also.
But after her death, my sister confided in me that she felt guilty in the joy of not being afraid of the phone ringing with bad news in the middle of the night.
Her joy had guilt. She was afraid of her treasure.
Peter denied our Christ three times and turned that horrible experience into a powerful treasure by following Christ's command to, "feed my sheep".
And of course, the ultimate example of treasure found comes from Christ's suffering. there we have our greatest joy because we are freed from the final death and suffering. Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfection of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Are you asking, "Do I have to go through what Peter, Paul, Joseph, and even you and Mary & Andre went through to get Joy?
Thankfully, we can say No! but use the trials--- the sufferings you have everyday to get the joy from living.
What treasure comes from your sick kids? You get to hold them more...
Your washer and dryer broke? You may find out that things can be worn twice before having to be washed... so in the end you learn another way to save on utilities.
Your husband's job is to be terminated? You may get the chance to move from NJ to your dream state. You may find out that money doesn't make happiness and Joy???
Your family does not understand your love for Christ? Your faithful witness may draw them to God. I have learned to know some of your sufferings while being here and I have no pat answers for you, for where you with God's help is going to find your joy. But you can.
God has given us that much used passage in Romans 8:28 "God works for good with those who love him." That is a cause for joy. since we love Him, everything that comes our way will have a treasure for us.
Go treasure hunting everyday!