Conntecting the Dots

A Lesson About True Joy–Learned in Romania

I’m still mentally processing lessons learned while in Eastern Europe this summer. For instance, working in Romania among a group of young adults living with serious health issues deepened my understanding about true joy.

I find immeasurable joy in in my grandchildren’s hugs. I find joy in knowing my kids and their spouses love the Lord, and in hearing my husband’s hello when he comes home from the office. Joy, for me, comes in knowing my writing or teaching has given someone direction or hope. It comes in spending time alone with God in the morning’s early hours. These things, and other simple pleasures, bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

But what if my circumstances looked different? What if my health deteriorated and I was no longer able to walk or talk or care for my own needs? What if my home was foreclosed, or my husband walked out on me? What if I’d experienced abandonment and abuse similar to that of my Romanian friends? What if my present involved the same struggles they face, or my future on this earth looked as uncertain? How joyful might I feel then?

Sitting beside the Danube River early one morning in July, I read Psalm 4:6-8: “Let your face smile on us, LORD. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.”

Those words leapt off the page that day. They reminded me that life’s circumstances can be dire indeed, but joy remains possible thanks to the Lord’s presence in our lives. Money, health, and creature comforts—although nice to have—ultimately do not bring the joy and peace we crave. It’s found in Christ alone.

These Scriptures have become very meaningful to me. I’ve turned them into a prayer: “Dear Father, please make your face smile on us (and on my brave Romanian friends). Grant us (and them) greater joy than those who have great material abundance. Grant us (and them) peace in knowing that You alone keep us safe. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Thanks for listening as I process the things I saw and learned. I pray that the lessons I’ve learned from yet another missions trip will bless you, too.

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