Joy is on the way – Girlfriends in God – August 19, 2022

August 19, 2022
joy is on the way
Joanna Teigen

The truth today

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He guides me in the right paths because of his name (Psalm 23:1,3 NIV).

friend to friend

Every morning on my way to work, my mother would drop me off at my babysitter, Mrs. Derryberry. I hopped up to her door, ready for the playmates, cookies, and hugs waiting on the other side. Summer meant a yard full of flowers with a swing and splash pool for sunny afternoons.

One summer day, the scent of Mrs. Derryberry’s roses drew me to the side of her house. Breathing in the scent, my eyes landed on a cluster of lilies almost as tall as me. Eager to smell other beautiful flowers, I poked my nose into the orange blossom petals. Yet, instead of a sweet scent, the pollen filled my nose with burning pain. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wondered how such a pretty flower could trick me into hurting myself!

You and I know all about that kind of deception, don’t we? You land your dream job, but poor management makes it a nightmare. You fall in love with the perfect guy, only to find his betrayal behind your back. The vacation you’ve been planning for months is ruined by illness or bad weather. You pour years of love into your child, only to see him struggle and rebel. The fun of a new home gives way to rude neighbors or expensive repairs. It feels like a bait and switch when the blessings we anticipate become a source of pain in the end.

In the book of Ruth in the Bible, we follow Naomi’s journey through disappointment. She and her family traveled from Bethlehem to the land of Moab to escape a terrible famine at home. Moab was delivering on the promise of rescue, supplies and life after a difficult season of fear and hunger.

Yet after settling in Moab, Naomi’s hopes of having a happy, healthy family were tragically dashed:

“Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons…After they had lived there about ten years, Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (Ruth 1:3-5).

Instead of sustenance and life, Moab held death and loss. Naomi had nothing left, so she set out on her way back to Judah.

Maybe you, too, find yourself empty-handed and grieving in heart. Your exciting plans have crumbled into ruin. The loved one you cherish is gone. Your enemies have the last word. Like Naomi, you are tempted to believe that “the hand of the Lord is turned against me” (v. 13) and that there is no hope.

In our most painful disappointments, we face a danger more destructive than our situation. The poison of bitterness can seep into our hearts and destroy our faith. Naomi returned home with a bitter spirit full of accusations against God for her empty and afflicted life. Instead of trusting her love, she placed the blame for her pain at her feet.

How do you experience disappointment today? Are you more likely to count your losses than the blessings? Does everyone know what’s wrong and why? Do you wonder if God has turned his back on you? Are you irritable and pessimistic about tomorrow? Take courage and just remember what is true.

Psalm 23:3 says, “He guides me in good ways because of his name. This part of life’s journey may seem too much to bear. But we can trust that even on our most difficult path, God offers refreshing comfort along the way. Even though we “walk through the darkest valley,” our shepherd never leaves us (v. 4).

We also remember Jesus who walked his own “straight path” of suffering all the way to the cross. Instead of resisting his Father’s will, he believed in “the joy that was reserved for him” yet to come (Hebrews 12:2). Over time, Naomi discovered the joy that God had in store for her from the start. She was blessed with a caring community, a loving family, and a precious grandchild who would take her place in the line of Christ.

If we turn away from bitterness and trust our Shepherd, we can be sure that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NIV). The power of God that raised Jesus from death to life is working for us even now. Together, let’s keep the faith.

Let’s pray

Dear Lord, my disappointments are so unfair. I find it hard to see Your goodness. Keep my heart from the bitterness that denies your faithful love. Help me to believe that you are leading me on the right path and that you are here by my side. I want to trust you with all my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now it’s your turn

In what ways have you experienced God’s goodness and care in a difficult season?

More girlfriends

Book cover of 101 prayers for womenIn our greatest disappointments, God offers the comforting gift of prayer. Joanna wrote 101 prayers for women to help you bring your worries, your praises and your hurts to the One who loves you most. Find uplifting scriptures and heartfelt prayers to refresh your faith and hope today. And share this cute, embossed, silvery gift book with a friend who needs some encouragement too.

© 2022 by Joanna Teigen. All rights reserved.

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