How could Mrs. Brown be so radiant? Her husband lay in a casket. He had served as a missionary doctor in Africa. Later, he practiced in Zion, Illinois. When I taught Bible classes there, he offered me free treatments. Not only had he won the respect of the local community, but also of fellow physicians and key officials in government.
He was taken swiftly by a heart attack, surely a hard trial for his widow. I failed to understand how she could beam with joy. She surely loved her husband.
Pastor Taylor faced severe trials. He pastored Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Yet, whenever I saw him, his face radiated the same joy Mrs. Brown had. I pondered, How can a person enduring such trials rejoice?
The Lord proceeded to show me the answer to this and other questions. My husband, Leon, faced a dilemma. “You’ll have to kill that tarantula,” he said when this creature invaded our bathroom. “You know how I am about spiders.” I held my breath and swatted that intruder before it had time to jump.
Sometime later a brown recluse bit Leon. His leg turned a brilliant red from his thigh down to his ankle. As we rushed to Baylor Hospital in Dallas, we wondered, How can we pay that bill? As we prayed, God encouraged us with peace in our hearts. Then He moved upon a relative to foot the bill.
About six months later, my husband and I rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I went numb when about an hour later, the doctor announced, “Mrs. Wallace, your husband just died of a massive heart attack. I’m sorry. We tried but we could not save him.”
This came as suddenly as Dr. Brown’s departure. It tore me in two. The Lord had made us one flesh. I felt as if part of me had left, too. Tears ran down my cheeks when they sang Leon’s favorite songs at the funeral. Yet in all this my Lord drew me closer to Himself. I experienced in the depths of my being a deeper sense of His presence and joy than ever before.
Questions came into my mind. How will I pay the Methodist hospital? What will I do for rent and other necessities? My faith faltered. Then I learned of an insurance policy that paid off the hospital bill and other expenses. A relative paid for a small mobile home for my daughter and myself. Various ones contributed furniture. God increased my meager faith and gave joy.
Now silence lingered in our shanty. My daughter, Lynette, had left for camp, leaving me alone in the stillness—alone with God.
As Jacob wrestled, I wrestled with my thoughts. What will I do now? I thought.
As God came down to Jacob in his crisis, God drew near to me now. We shared a precious time of communion in my hour of sorrow.
Jacob trembled when he knew Esau was coming. I trembled before the valley of death. God comforted me with His rod and staff. At that time He spoke to me with a still, quiet voice. He revealed to me how my days could fill up in the midst of seeming tragedy. My days have overflowed with peace and joy.
Later, God spoke to Jacob and said, “Return to Bethel.” God spoke to me through a sermon. Through it He called me to write for Him, a work that I love. He answered the prayer of my heart, What will I do now? I returned to my Bethel, my hometown.
What is the secret of deep-seated abounding joy in the midst of adversity? First of all, it stems from communion with the Lord. Pastor Taylor spent much time with his Lord in the wee hours of the night. Therein lay the source of his joy.
In addition, joy comes when we sense our utter dependence upon the Lord. After Leon’s home going, I threw myself more upon the Lord. I felt so helpless without my beloved to guide me. The truth of John 15:5, “without me ye can do nothing” came home to me in a fresh way. Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” also hit home with me.
In this day of self-made men and women I tended to depend too much upon myself. When I perceived my utter helplessness without Christ, and cast myself upon Him, I came close to the secret of deep, abiding joy. The trials did not cease, but became easier to bear.
When trials get me down and climb on top of me, my stress turns into distress. God says to examine myself. Why am I depressed? On occasion the cause comes not from within, but from without, especially after a great victory in my life. Satan hates a victorious Christian. God used the apostle James to instruct in dealing with our foe: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:7).
When I learned to commune with the Lord, I learned the secret of real joy. God-given joy depends not on my circumstances, as happiness does, but on Him. Then I can sing from the heart as Paul and Silas did in prison. For this I do not have to possess a beautiful voice.
Now I live in a small double-wide mobile home with nice furniture. A relative paid for it.
Recently, I purchased a 2006 Chevy Cobalt. It drives like a dream.
My old car wore out. A used car salesman and a friend, found this car for me. Jack drove my old car twenty miles to the dealership. Marj, his wife, drove me in their vehicle to pick up my vehicle. Earlier, these two friends drove me down to look at this car.
God used my friends as well as giving me the finances to make the payments. He added to my comfort, and gave joy and peace. The Lord is good.
Lynn’s book, Our Lifeship, speaks of joy throughout the book. See her bio, information about her book, and speaking at her website: www.writingfrommyheart.com.