26/07/2018

Joy in the Drought

So this week I did not have a blog pre-written that I felt was meant to go out just yet. I prayed a week ago for God to give me wisdom and help me to write about a subject. I thought  about writing on thankfulness or joy and that’s what I landed on.

But what is funny is that I had no clue that this week would be a harder week for me to be thankful, and a harder week for me to “feel” joy. But that’s why I think God is nudging my heart to write this now. So here I am writing about the joy in the drought, joy in the wilderness as we wait.

Not every day are we at the beach or lake where it’s easy to be thankful and quick to point out laughter and mark it as joy.

This week I’ve been at home while it rains every single day. My week has been hard. I’ve had a lot going on and it has not been easy.

But what am I reminded? I’m reminded that Jesus is faithful.

One of my greatest friends, Mary Kate, once figuratively wiped my tears off the ground while hearing me exclaim I just wanted joy back in my life. And what I expected to hear from her was that she would be praying for me for that joy to return, but instead she said something that will never leave me, “Taylor, joy is the fruit of the spirit and you can not lose it once you have it.”

 

Perspective shift- Wow! So then why can’t I feel it? Well sometimes we don’t “feel” good things. For example, I love Luke a lot, but sometimes I have days where I’m upset with him. That doesn’t diminish or take away from my Love, or the fact that it’s there. It just means that at that moment I’m not “feeling” butterflies, but I’m choosing to show him that I love him.

This is the same with our relationship with God. Sometimes I don’t hear from Him or get anything out of my quiet time other than disappointment. But that doesn’t take away from His love for me or mine for Him just cause I can’t “feel” a good thing.

Not being able to “feel” a good thing does not mean that it’s bad or doesn’t exist. We are quick to dismiss anything if we do not “feel” goodness right away.

Joy is everlasting. Joy does not come and go. If you have accepted Christ and asked for His spirit to fill you, you have received Joy. But some days it may be hard to find that Joy within you. But you know that you have it because you have Him.

I believe that this is when we are to practice thanksgiving. When we practice being thankful when everything is going well, there will be “spiritual muscle memory” for when times get hard.

For example, when you have anxiety you learn to breathe in a way that helps your brain realize your safe. But you can not just practice that when you’re feeling in danger. You have to start when you feel your safest, so that your brain knows you are okay when you do it at times when you don’t feel safe.

Practicing good things consistently when you feel joy, safe, and thankful sets you up for the days when you feel nothing.

 

 

Good things are not always felt all the time.

As humans we often get discouraged and feel as if we are spiraling when we don’t see or can’t feel goodness. We immediately write it off as if what we are going through is “bad.”

When there is absence of hearing from God, that does not mean God is absent. Perhaps, God is sitting in a room with you, waiting for you to realize that not all good things are felt, sometimes they are practiced, sought after, and in need of faithfulness.

There is still water in the desert, when you believe in Jesus. There is still freedom in prison when you believe in Jesus. There is still something to be thankful for when there’s not even one dollar in the bank account, when you believe in Jesus.

Not all good things are felt.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”

Isaiah 44:3-4

So this week has been difficult for me, it hasn’t made sense and it has been discouraging. But my joy is still within me, my faith is being made strong, and my heart is weak but He is within me to build me up, even when I don’t feel it.

I don’t feel joyful, but I recognize that He is there because I have this “spiritual muscle memory.”

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

 

photos by Kim Johnson

I don’t need temporary fulfillment because I have the word of God to fulfill me even when I don’t feel the goodness, I know He is planting seeds in me where I will see the fruit.

Joy is the fruit, and the seed is planted within me. This tree doesn’t die, and neither does the fruit.

4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,

    and they will lift you up in their hands,

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus may not have felt goodness in the wilderness, but He knew what the Word of God said. He was able to combat the temptation with the Truth. He may not have felt Joy in that moment and He may not have felt goodness, but He knew. He had “spiritual muscle memory.” This is Jesus showing us by example what it means to be faithful, to lean in towards the Father and glorify Him above any “good feeling.”

So if you are in a season of drought or you are walking through the wilderness, and you feel no goodness, stay strong. Maybe what feels good in your life is actually not meant to be. And maybe what you see as difficult and hard is actually the best for you because it is strengthening your spirit to be tied to His. What I said may sound confusing, but think about when Jesus was in the desert, I’m sure he was wanting to eat, after all- He had a human body and was fasting. But He knew that even though that may have sounded better, He knew what was right, and He was faithful. We are called to do the same. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, it means we are called to glorify Him and worship Him even when it is difficult.

If you have been going through the wilderness, and you have felt no good feeling- know this:

  1. You are not alone. Jesus knows what it’s like in the wilderness.
  2. The Fruit of the Spirit is GOOD even during days you don’t “feel” it.
  3. Your season of dryness or the season in the wilderness tests your soul but strengthens your “spiritual muscle memory.”

Resources:

When I was going through this season, Mary Kate suggested I read this plan, which helped me a lot. So here is what I did for devotions, and what I still go back to…

Suffering and Pain: Unexpected Unhurry (7 day plan) by Alan Fadling

This plan will help guide you if you feel lack of direction for your quiet time.

I reached out to a friend, Andrew Fuller, who is wise and writes/sings.
He said this, “in seasons of dryness I honestly just try and listen to worship music more than usual as a general rule of thumb as opposed to just one song in particular. I’ll just throw on my Jesus jams playlist everywhere whether it’s at home or in the car or whatever. I think supplementing my normal music which may or may not be that edifying for worship in those instances can help my posture towards the Lord…”

I think it’s true and so important to fix our posture towards the Lord.

So with your help:

Here is a playlist that I made, including several songs that people sent to me yesterday that have encouraged them during their season of drought. I used Luke’s Spotify but here it is: Joy in the Drought

Another reading plan that is a classic: Streams in the Desert, 21 Day Plan 

A book that has helped me immensely, also suggested by my “kindred spirit”, MK:

Hinds Feet on High Places 

Here are the scriptures that you guys sent in that have helped you during your season of drought:

Psalm 23(Psalm 23:5)

Luke 1:5-25 -Elizabeth’s Testimony

Luke 1:45

Isaiah 43:1-7

1 Corinthians 10:13

Psalm 63:1

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Psalms 116:5-9

Psalm 139:16

Psalm 73:26

Jeremiah 29:11

If you have never read the Bible or have difficulty being consistent, try reading through the gospels to learn more about Jesus’ ministry, and then try reading through the book of Psalm (to learn how to posture yourself before the Lord) and Proverbs (to learn about God’s wisdom). It’s never a bad time to start! You are never too young, or too old to begin good habits.

Thank you for reading,

Tay Ruth

3 responses to “Joy in the Drought”

  1. Emma says:

    wow!!! just what i needed

  2. Bugs says:

    This is so beautiful

  3. […] tayruth.com about “spiritual muscle memory.” She briefly mentions it in her post about “Joy in the Drought” (which is great by the way) and it really caught my attention because it made me tell myself that, […]

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