A Foundation of Joy
By Zoë Elmore

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 (NIV)

I’ve struggled with dyslexia and ADD since childhood, and for the most part I don’t allow myself to dwell in the land of defeat and discouragement as I try to concentrate and focus on my home and work responsibilities. However, one day last week everything I attempted was either backward or forgotten about altogether. That may not seem too distressing, but with three part time jobs its imperative I stay on task and do things correctly. It was a day of total frustration and embarrassment; the kind of day you pray that the floor will open up and swallow you whole. I left my office discouraged and defeated, wanting nothing more than to put this day and myself to bed.

After dinner I put on my pajamas, slid under the covers, and settled in for a little bedtime reading. I came across the most interesting story on Thomas Edison, a story that helped put an end to my pity-party. It reminded me that trying times are a normal part of this life, and they present an opportunity to strengthen my foundation of joy.

Thomas Edison invented over one thousand things in addition to the phonograph he is famous for. As amazing as his inventions are, I was particularly interested to discover that this man of genius and invention struggled with dyslexia. Despite this, he found ways to learn from his failures. Did you know that in 1914 his laboratory caught fire and burned to the ground while eight fire companies watched helplessly? The next morning as he looked at the remaining rubble, Edison said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” What an incredible attitude! This man was able to see beyond the disaster before his very eyes to the potential ahead.

His words pierced me like a knife, as I thought about my defeated and discouraged attitude of the day. Where I had lost one day’s work through a computer glitch, this man had lost a lifetime of inventions. Where I had chosen to see the remaining rubble of the day, this man chose to see the future that awaited him. When I longed to hide under the covers, this man took joy in the good that would come about from his loss. Thomas Edison’s statement sums up the truth about spiritual growth perfectly: trials are the foundation of joy for spiritual maturity. We grow spiritually only from and through the trials that arrive on our doorstep.

If you’re feeling frustrated, defeated and discouraged by the trials in your life today, I want to encourage you to look beyond the rubble to what lies ahead. It can be difficult to face our trials with the kind of spirit that sees great value in disaster, but that’s what the Lord expects from us if we are to be women who walk on their foundation of joy. Here is a poem that reflects this attitude so well. While the author is unknown, the poet obviously knows the formula for the foundation of joy.

It’s sometimes very difficult
for us to understand
the wisdom and the love
behind the things that God has planned.

But we wouldn’t have the rainbow
If we didn’t have the rain;
We wouldn’t know the pleasure
If we never tasted pain.

We wouldn’t love the sunrise
If we hadn’t felt the night;
And we wouldn’t know our weakness
If we hadn’t sensed God’s might.

We couldn’t have the springtime
or the yellow daffodil
if we hadn’t experienced
the winter’s frosty chill.

And though the brilliant sunshine
is something God has made.
He knew too much could parch our souls
so He created shade.

So God’s given us a balance:
Enough joys to keep us glad,
Enough tears to keep us humble,
Enough good to balance bad.

And if you’ll trust in Him you’ll see
Though yesterday brought sorrow,
The clouds will part and dawn will bring
A happier tomorrow.

Dear Lord, You are good and everything You bring into my life is for my good and Your glory. I thank You for burning away my mistakes and providing an opportunity to start anew each day, just as Your mercies are new each morning. Help me to see beyond the rubble and to You for the lessons necessary to grow my faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Him?

Worship: Nearing the Heart of God, by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

Because, Worship CD by Gwen Smith

Visit Zoe’s Blog

Application Steps
Ask the Lord to reveal the lessons necessary to grow your faith. Write them in your journal.

Record your spiritual growth on a spiritual doorpost, just like you record your child’s physical growth on a physical doorpost.

Reflections
What rubble is holding you back? What keeps you from displaying a mature spirit?

Why are you focused on the rubble and not the revelation the Lord longs to share with you?

Power Verses
Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV)

Psalm 25:5, "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day."(NAS)

Psalm 31:3, "For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me."(NAS)


11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this much needed rain for a parched soul. Only God knows the depth of our problems and your devotion today even had my life verse. God's mercies are new every day and I am grateful.

Sandi

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going through possibly the hardest trial of my life so far and a good friend gave me your blog link today. What a blessing! I know God is there for me, and actually this message, about trusting God in whole, was the message He was trying to get to me today. I hear Him! Thank you for the poem. I think I shall make it big on the fridge to remind me. God bless! ~em

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am going through possibly the hardest time of my life up to now. I have seen God faithful over and over. This time around I have struggled greatly to keep my faith and trust above ground. I know God will see me through to hope and strength. Thank you for the reminder that all the wreckage....as I walk away and continue in obedience...is behind me and His purpose is being woven together for my good. He has a purpose and plan and his strength will carry me as I choose joy!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 years ago I left a despondent message in your prayer request section. I left it unsigned, from annonymous.

2 months prior to that prayer request, I had my husband arrested for assaulting me, after turning to my church, begging for help...to be given the cold treatment, with the church staff becoming devious in their attempts to "protect" my husband.

My 14 year old daughter and 4 yr old son witnessed the assault (as well as the verbal, mental and psychological abuse that had gone on for years). Both children were falling apart with emotional problems of their own, which included rage.

I turned to your website's prayer request section as a place to vent my hopeless despair one night. There was NO ONE I could turn to but God...and your prayer request section.

I had just found out my church and my husband were conspiring to have me involuntarily committed to a mental hospital... and the ONLY protection I had was from my Rock of protection, the One who sees all, and no plan made in the dark goes without Him seeing it.

i KNEW God would protect me. I KNEW God would protect my children. But the despair was too great that night...and the fact that God can't physically put his arms around me is sooo hard sometimes.

So I wrote asking for your prayers.

It's been 2 years since that night, and after reading today's devotional about being joyful through trials I felt compelled to write. I've been through hell...and back...during the last 18 years of marriage.

In the last 2 years, I've seen God's PROTECTION, GREAT FAITHFULNESS, COMPASSION and COMFORT. His mercies are truly new every morning. We must go from strength to strength and glory to glory in this life, but he truly holds us during those in-between times of trials and pain.

In the cycle of going from strength to strength and glory to glory, I'm on the upside now. My husband (and, coincidentally, my church) went through lengthy hardship and discipline from the Lord that lasted the entire 2 years.

My husband and I are back together now, I'm MUCH stronger and healthier... both mentally and physically. I will never again suffer at his hands or his mouth, and he knows it.

But my relationship with my church is still broken. I tried to confront my church staff 18 months ago and they wouldn't give me the time of day. I think I'm being led by the Lord to confront them again...but I can't tell if it's just my anger wanting to do this or if it's truly the Lord telling me to do this. There are too many churches that kill their wounded, my church is definitely one of them.

Please pray again? I'll try not to let 2 years go by before giving you an update again. :~)

God IS.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Lord, I thank You for how You have helped each of these people that have written thru this devotional and our prayers for one another. Thank You that You have been there for each of us each day. I pray for the leaders of this church that they will see how wrong they have been and humble themselves before this woman if it is Your will for her to confront them regarding their disastrous behavior toward her. Thank you, Lord, for what You are going to accomplish in their lives. Rejoicing in You, Jesus.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! How amazing our Lord is. My husband and I JUST sat down with some of the leaders in our church yesterday due to some false child abuse allegations. It wasn't so much the allegations that were made that were so upsetting, but the nature in which they were made and the fact that they didn't seem to really have a plan in place to minister to us once the allegation/report was made. We felt hurt, betrayed, angry...a whole host of emotions.

But, God is good! Despite the immediate fleshly response we first had, we knew that He was more concerned about HOW we were going to work through the remainder of the trial as a couple, family and as individual members of the body of Christ. How we responded during this struggle was very crucial to the outcome (and we could only respond graciously with His help...with lots of HIS mercy and grace!)

He revealed to me over and over again that we weren't to take personal offense (even though we were SO very offended, and this was SO very personal!) Once he changed our heart attitudes, we were able to come alongside the leaders in the church and bring some ideas to the table (based on this negative personal experience, as well as our professional experience as classroom teachers) that may hopefully help them to consider doing some things differently if this ever happens again. And, we actually WERE able to vent a little bit and share how we honestly felt at first. This, I think, just helped aid in the healing/restoration process... and they probably needed to hear much of what we shared. Hopefully, because the Lord humbled us during this entire process, it didn't come across harshly, and they really heard our hearts.

OKAY, BUT HERE'S THE CLENCHER...

The major eye-opener for me is what happened this morning during my quiet time (just one day after our meeting.) We all know that God works ALL things for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose: Well, I was MAJORLY convicted this morning that I did not show my husband the respect he deserved during that meeting. I interrupted him a couple of times, and I spoke WAY too much in comparison to him. I was petrified and began to panic when he opened his mouth. I just knew that he was going to "go off" on these poor men and that he would make us look like horrible people or something, so I, because of my doubt, fear, and inability to trust my husband (God, really), spoke for him the majority of the time. How rude, disprespectful, and dishonoring! I was in tears this morning!

I've already apologized to my husband, but now I feel I should say something those who were at the meeting. I am so ashamed by the way I treated him, but SO thankful that the Lord is already using this situation to glorify Himself, draw me closer to Him, and teach me how to be a more godly wife. Amazing, isn't it? I kept asking, "Why?!? Why are we going through this? This isn't fair! We love our children... we're good parents!"

Well, now I know...I know ONE WAY the Lord is already using this situation for His glory and for my/our good. I am sure that there are MANY more ways He will use it in the days to come!

For the woman who wrote the post about feeling hurt and betrayed by her church: my heart was aching for you when I read your words. I could really empathize and feel your pain on a personal level. My prayer is that you will continue to seek God's will in this horrible situation and that He will reveal to You all the things He is doing to work this out for His glory and your good.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I see some parallels in your situation and mine.

18 months ago, when I emailed the pastor to arrange a meeting, he wrote back asking what it was about. I responded that I felt the need to talk with the staff and go over the things that happened over the last few months so we could see where improvements needed to be made.

He ignored me. I didn't get a response, and I kept emailing him once a week, asking to schedule a meeting, for 6 weeks. Finally, I called and spoke to his secretary and demanded a meeting. I was not exactly friendly about it either. We found a compromise and I made a meeting with the #2 pastor instead, the guy whose job is to remove criticism away from the head pastor.

I met with him for 3 hours, and also gave him 6 pages of mistakes the church had made, some of which where they violated state and federal laws through some of their actions.

And in the last 18 months I've heard NOTHING in response. For all I know, he dumped those pages in the trash on his way out the door.

I haven't stepped foot inside a church in over 2 years now. But when I do, it will be the same church, and I will finish the job the Lord gave me. The Lord disciplined that church for 2 reasons (that I know of)...first, as Christians we are not to take our problems with each other to the court system. My husband assaulted me in the church parking lot on a Sunday morning. Obviously the courts would know immediately that we were Christians. (I was forced to go to the courts to get my husband to move out of the home. The church refused to help me do this.)

Secondly, what my church did to me was a CRIME. God says "bear the burdens of one another and thus fulfill the LAW OF CHRIST". They violated God's law doing what they did to 2 handicapped children and their mother.

They placed a terrible shame upon themselves. And God is telling me He wants it brought into the light, dealt with in the light so this never happens again.

I have the opportunity to spread the news of HOW MUCH God can do in truly impossible situations. He is the GREATEST God, NOTHING can be hidden from Him. I was up against a third pastor, who was retired from 30 years as a policeman in my city. He enlisted the help of another church member, who had 25 years experience as a police dectective, in the same city. They were best friends with my husband attorney, a man who practiced law for over 30 years, in the same city.

And then the head pastor is the most intelligent man I've ever seen. He has met with professors at an ivy league college in my city, men who are as far left on the liberal side as you can get. He runs circles around them theological arguements and wins EVERY arguement. NOTHING intimidates him.

The odds against me were in-surmountable. HOW could a woman with no friends, no family, no connections, fight against such odds???? The answer is that I didn't fight them. GOD DID!!!!

He is the ANSWER to EVERY trail we will ever go through in this life. He alone is the GREAT "I AM..."

So continue to pray? I don't know when or how this will happen, I'll leave the timing up to Him. Pray that I'll listen to His voice and prompting, and not let it be my effort but HIS.

God Bless Proverbs 31 for this ministry. You truly meet the needs of His people.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. The church tape recorded me in the sessions I had with the church counselor (yet another staff member) and gave the "information" they got from me in my sessions to my husband's attorney.

They they tried to get me involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. My husband went before a judge, twice, and swore out a warrant for my arrest. Police came to my home four times to arrest me and take me to the mental ward. God's still small voice told me each time not to answer the door each time they came.

Now this was unheard of for me, to not answer the door for a policeman. I was in the Neighborhood Watch system and it isn't out of the ordinary for a policeman to stop by once a month or so.

But God prompted me to not answer the door 4 times. He told me I needed to get to a Women's Shelter immediately. While at the woman's shelter I learned what their plans had been...God saved me from it!!!

God truly protects His own. He held me so many nights when I was grieving over what my children were going through. My son went through violent rages where I had to clamp him in my arms and legs while he raged in anger. That went on daily for almost a month after my husband was arrested and moved out. My daugher went through similar fits of anger (but how do you hold a 14 yr old???)

I look back on it and wonder how I lived through the terrible, terrible stress. Yes, God's arms reach down DEEP to hold and sustain us. All I had was Him and I grasped ahold of Him as best I could.

Too many churches kill their wounded. I know I'm not the only one who has been hurt by a church. I'm not sure how or when, but God is leading me to help bring about change in one of those churches.

Father, please help me listen to your prompting. Let it be YOUR words that come from my mouth, not my own. Let me not hurt them as they have hurt me, but let me be your vessel to bring about change.
Thank you dear abba father.

Could you also pray for my husband? He has truly done a 180 in his behavior. The "2x4 method" from the Lord worked. He is a changed man and I don't recognize in him the person he used to be.

Praise God!!!!

OpenID fallingintofavor said...

I'm really starting to learn that sometimes we need our trials to experience true joy. Someone once said: "There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm."

Anonymous Cheri Liefeld said...

Thank you for reminding us to see beyond our "rubble" and trust in God's plan, even if we can't see!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's Happening im new on here, I came upon this forum I have found It incredibly accommodating and it has helped me so much. I should be able to contribute and support other people like its helped me.

Cheers, See Ya Around

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