“The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.” Isaiah 51:3 NLT
As I lowered my husband’s ashes into the ground, I felt like my faith, hope and joy buried themselves in the soil surrounding his remains. Would they ever blossom again? As I searched for the answer, God lead me to this Scripture:
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 NIV.
Job lost everything: his children, servants, animals and crops. He was then afflicted with painful sores and his wife died soon after. In all that loss, how did he continue to praise the Lord?
Job mourned, lamented and complained but he never cursed or abandoned his relationship with God. He had faith in God’s power to accomplish the impossible:
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 NIV
In due time, God restored and redeemed Job’s life and gave Job twice as much as he had before.
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10. NIV
Not so long ago, I felt like I was living the life of Job. My father and my husband died from colon cancer within two years of each other. Losing the two men I loved most in this world shook me to the core. The intense grief and stress affected my physical and mental health. I was no longer able to work and had to leave a job I loved. Many of my friendships and family relationships disintegrated while I struggled to parent two grieving teenagers alone.
Unlike Job, I walked away from my relationship with God and there was not a trace of praise in me. I was so bitter about what I had lost; I could not see that God was trying to give back. He continued to pursue me and in time, my eyes opened and I saw God’s goodness and love. I surrendered my heart to Him and started to praise God once again.
Cultivating an intimate relationship with God and praising Him in the midst of pain is the special compost mix needed to harvest joy in a season of loss. I nourish my relationship with Him by taking time each day to pray, to read His Word and to praise Him. When I am praising God, I am focused on His goodness not my pain, problems or plight. Acknowledging the wonder and majesty of God immediately fills me with joy.
Because of God’s grace and mercy, He dug my faith, hope and joy out of that grave and planted them deep down in my heart. A heart that was once broken and barren is now a luscious garden. It is overflowing with God’s love, fierce faith, and eternal hope. It is teeming with abiding trust, endless peace and abundant joy. The garden rests on a firm foundation – my Savior, Jesus Christ. Scattered throughout the garden are seeds of purpose, a calling, to encourage others experiencing loss and illness to look to Jesus for hope, healing and salvation.
“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
Are you in a season of loss, wondering if you will ever experience joy again?
There is hope! Reach out to God, ask him to open your eyes and reveal His goodness to you. Surrender it all to Him. He will guide you, heal you and restore you. God is at work; He is creating a glorious garden just for you.
Here are a few Scripture verses that I believe will help you on your way to experiencing that joy GOD wants you to have:
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:2-3 NIV
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 NIV
Come, Sister, step into your garden. It’s beautiful out here.
Alison Kozlow is a Christ follower, writer, widow and full-time mom to two teenage boys. By God’s grace, she is thriving in the midst of loss and chronic illness. Ali loves reading, journaling, taking nature walks, and sipping on a steaming cup of coffee. Ali’s greatest passion is sharing her love for Jesus with others. She lives in Northern Ontario, Canada. Alison invites you to connect with her at https://www.facebook.com/alikozlowwriter and https://www.instagram.com/alikozlow/?hl=en.
We thank you, Alison, for contributing to this month’s publication of Titus-two.com, talking about “Joy In Difficult Seasons”
You are loved to Heaven and Back ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary