Want Joy – in the midst of this?

This week started quiet: breakfast, home school, kids, and something unusual – a fun prayer group texting about a forty-something friend running the Boston Marathon.

My morning run, squeezed in between teaching 5th grade math and history, took me by our friend’s house a few times. As I passed the driveway, an older man emptied the trunk of his car, and I thanked God for blessing her with family that helped her achieve her dreams.

I prayed safety for her, too, and finding that a little odd (she’s a multiple marathon runner, and qualified for Boston – no small feat!) chalked it up to our ages, the crowds, or transportation issues.


And that afternoon, I found myself trying to stop the gush of blood from the ankle of one of my Boy Scouts.

A knot in a branch refused submission to the hatchet, bouncing the sharp tool hard onto his ankle. The skin sliced wide, blood flowed, and brave boy maintained consciousness. Bone fully exposed, I prayed, asking for both strength and joy in the midst of this harsh interruption to our routine.

Driving, it occurred to me that lack of submission to God often also results in hardships. Sometimes they are sharp and immediate, other times, they are slow growing, like infected festering wounds. 

Obedience doesn’t exempt us, however. That’s one of that other guy’s really good lies.

I wondered.

Waiting in the ER, the television brought news of the bombing.

“Mom?” he asked.

On screen, we watched the horror unfold.

We prayed. I wondered about my friend and her husband in Boston. Him standing at the sidelines, cheering her on… I thought of her bright smile and laugh. I asked for safety again.

And thanks to the texting prayer group and Facebook®, we only had about twenty minutes to wonder.

My friend had just crossed the finish line and was about a block away from the first building when it blew. Her husband, across the street from it, had his life and limbs spared by 50 feet of distance.

I wept with gratitude at the mercy shown them both, and their children, and those of us who know and love them all.

I wondered how probably a handful of small decisions – perhaps a water break taken or not, a phone call placed or saved for later, a discussion or lack of at several different places along the route – put her a block away, and not in front of the building when it exploded. I wondered about her husband on the other side of the street, and not next to the building.

I wept with recognition of the God that gives and takes away, and prayed for those who began deeper suffering that day – the friends of the Boston University graduate there to cheer on friends, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Martin Richard, 8; their families, their friends…the many injured permanently and temporarily…the ones who watched both near and afar…our nation.


Ten stitches, a cast, infection and five doctor and two ER visits later, it is Friday. We are tired, and continually having to choose gratitude.

Like my son’s wound, the hard work of healing still lies ahead for individuals and our country. I bought him ice cream, and am taking flowers to my friend. And I ask Him to help me SEE countless times during the day, battling the fear with blessing as we go.

Last night, He reminded me of the horrors of living in different periods in history.

Wonder, but not just the kind of warm fuzzy feelings, consumes me these days. And like you, I have more questions than I have answers. I wondered at the strange decision to cast my son’s unbroken, healthy tendon-filled foot, but after asking my questions, allowed it to occur. A full day later, I learned from the pediatrician it was because of the connective tissue disorder and to stop the increasing amount of tearing going on with the wound. I wondered about the bombing, the explosion at the fertilizer plant, and at the Creation, knowing He made us this way, this arguing, hating, passionate way. I wondered at the label of “Christian Democrat” that was claimed by the man accused of sending ricin packages to our leaders.

It has been a week of wondering, hasn’t it?

And like you, with many unanswered questions, I hugged my kids tighter, prayed harder, and chose gratitude and fought discouragement this week.

Battle weary, the tenseness of my shoulders and the physical exhaustion I feel is indicative of my great need for Him and my small faith. I wondered if I lived centuries ago, if I would make the “Hebrew Hall of Fame” listed in Hebrews chapter 11. How I long to never be afraid, to always trust, to continually be brave and not have it count as bravery because there is no fear, but only His complete peace. Did they eventually have this kind of faith? 

I wondered at the lack of awareness about my blogging this week – it nagged at me like never before, and I somehow forgot about the two posts nearly completely written for me by others I simply didn’t use yet.

I couldn’t see.  He tried to bless me, but I didn’t stop long enough to receive His gift. I chose instead, to stay trapped in my own habits of thinking.

I confess, in a world filled with struggle and strife, I am still learning how to find joy in the tough parts of this journey, and escape my culturally influenced habits of thinking. I would rather have my son healed and safe than suffering now to learn the many things he is learning through this injury and infection.

I can’t learn this joy on my own. I have to ask Him to reveal it to me, and when I do, I’m continually brought back to being thankful for what He has given us.

Dare you today to ask God to teach you in the middle of whatever pain you are experiencing. Dare you to ask Him to help you SEE.

Double dog dare you to share – especially if you have a prayer request, or have learned fully to partake of joy in the midst of the life-desert in which we live, overcoming the need for green pasture entertainment, delight and comfort most of the time.

I want to know how He taught you to be joy-filled always.

As for me, I am actively waging war by begging for vision, and giving thanks for His mercies, His blessings, His Great Love for us. So far this morning, I’ve seen Him in the middle of my husband’s job, which bought me the bed I didn’t want to get out of and the house he purchased for us, the sweet singing sounds of the birds outside my window, the rain, the colors of spring, the sweet/bitter taste of reheated hazelnut coffee, and the warm soft hugs from waking children.

Today, I’m finding my More…because there IS more. I just need to learn to see the way He does. Glad you are here, learning too. Got thoughts? I hope you share them.

Love to you,

~Nina


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6 thoughts on “Want Joy – in the midst of this?

  1. I have lots of questions about stuff that happens – but since I won’t get most of them answered I remember that He can use bad things for good. Trusting God gives me peace in the pain.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

  2. What a week! I have a newborn baby, and I live outside Boston. As I watched the events of this week, I just kept praying for something good to come out of this tragedy, that goodness would prevail, and that evil would be overcome. And it has, because rather than being gripped by acts of terror and letting fear get the best of us, this community has chosen to come together, united and stand strong against these evil acts.
    I think this week has been proof of your encouraging words, that we can find joy in the midst of hard times, that we always have something to learn from even the toughest experiences.
    Thank you for your message~

  3. I was a wreck the first time I was pregnant. During all of our pre-marriage talks, I just kept coming back to that the joy of my heart was to be a mother and with following a very unique leading from the Lord, that would be an easy way for the enemy to attack us. So when were blessed with a pregnancy, I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I prayed every single day that the God of the universe, the One who gives and takes away, would give me the faith and humility to praise Him – no matter what happened during the pregnancy, delivery and newborn phase, and beyond; that He would remind me every day that these are not my children, but His, on loan from Him because He loves me and wants to see me teach them to know Him too. Over and over and over I sang “I will praise you in this storm” by Casting Crowns, wanting so badly for it to fill me before the storm came so I would be ready.
    This preparation has served me so well. I look at my kids and think that each day – even the exhausting ones – are such a gift and a joy. I might not get one more – that’s not up to me. I can do everything “right” and God’s plan may be different than my plan. The enemy may strike my children. But the joy that fills me from knowing that God holds us in the palm of His hands – that joy is so immense that even when we are in the midst of tantrums, I can see so much about God’s heart for me, my children, and all of His creation. It’s beautiful. It’s humbling. I feel so full knowing He thinks the same things about me sometimes and I smile at my not-so-baby girl and think “Wow…another day for joy”

  4. Overflowing Joy- 2013, that is what I asked of God. 4+ months in and I am certain it has been present every day, sadly I can likely count on fingers the days I sought His will for that joy. Christmas is sticking with me through the song”Joy to the world” Chris Tomlin style, joy, unspeakable joy, an overflowing well, no tongue can tell, rising in my soul, never let me go.
    Today I have blessings overflowing that I long to share … In His time. Praying with you for our daily walk in this crazy world.

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