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Sunrise Reflections: Lessons on True Joy – Part 1 of 2

We’re meant to live in the joy of the Lord all the time! Yet we see many Christians who don’t appear to be OK, are not at peace, nor even a little bit joyful. Joy isn’t the same as happiness or joviality; it’s a long-lasting condition of heartfelt joy that withstands adversity—mixed with resilient hope, pleasure, satisfaction, and contentment. Joy is unspeakable and glorious! Let’s focus more on JOY as a promise and a huge blessing for believers—as we discussed in the premier episode of my Radiant Joy Podcast. If you missed that, you may want to watch it now and be inspired by my guest, a model of radiating joy. The joy of the Lord can be our constant companion. 

JOY IS . . .

Our strength for daily life (Nehemiah 8:10)
The heart’s response to God’s precepts (Psalm 19:9 and 119:111)
Mixed with gratitude when God grants our hearts’ desires and requests (Psalm 20:4-5)
What comes to us in God’s presence, protection, and pardon (Psalm 21: 1, 6 & 51:12)
What helps us rest in bed at night, safe and secure in our faith (Psalm 63:6-7)
How we feel when our anxiety has been consoled (Psalm 94.19)
Something we can’t help but express to the rock of our salvation (Psalm 95:1-2)
Medicine for our bodies (Proverbs 17:20)
The heart’s response to hearing God’s voice (Is. 30:29-30)

And that’s just using verses from the Old Testament. In my next post, I’ll include verses from the New Testament and talk about how each day offers Jesus’ followers an opportunity to be joyful, because every day was made by the Lord for us to rejoice and celebrate! (See Psalm 118:24). 

I just returned from a 7-week writing sabbatical in San José del Cabo, Mexico, where I experienced daily rejoicing in a special way. I was blessed to wake up before the sun rose nearly every morning of my stay, and to focus on the skies until the sun rose to its zenith and was too bright to behold (or, once or twice, hid behind clouds). I was surprised to realize that the general progression of the morning skies was like this:

Very dark, just some moonlight; then . . .
Very dramatic, varying with the cloud cover, but always including a mix of darkness and light and some warm ochre or caramel (and some days, the moon was still visible);
Less drama, also varying with the clouds or clear state of the skies, and becoming more of a soft pink;

Then the sky colors would lessen as the golden-orange of the sun nosed its way just over the horizon; this is when most people would focus on the sunrise, but they’d missed what I thought was the whole episode of God’s Morning Show!

The elapsed time between the sun peeking over the horizon and being fully visible was so short that my husband called it the “sunpop” instead of a “sunrise;”
And suddenly, there’s the whole bright yellow ball we depend on for light, warmth, and food.

Of course, I saw lots of metaphors in the progressions and the daily nature of sunrises and sunsets in relation to our earthly lives with light and darkness, drama, degrees of intensity, light whispy clouds and heavier foreboding ones. Perhaps this speaks to your soul, too.

I’d enjoyed other sunrises in my life, but this year I was in awe of the wonder of them, of them not being so momentary but involving all these stages and daily variation. Looking at them brought me tremendous delight and gratitude. I was mystified by God’s glorious creation and the beauty He provides. I appreciated life–my own, that of others, and even of the trees blowing in the early morning breezes, the birds who chirped or warbled, the waves that sauntered in or crashed, the squeals of little children on the beach to watch the sunrise with their families. I would think of the gift and opportunity of each new day, of being alive and knowing the Lord.

Although there was some adversity happening during part of this sabbatical, including medical problems for family members and other challenges, my joy felt complete as I greeted each day with gratitude and rejoiced in God my Creator, Savior, and Helper. I would be moved to plant my bare feet on the earth, reach down and touch it, and then raise and hold my arms up towards the heavens, and softly sing “All Hail, King Jesus” or some other form of praise-filled morning greeting, like I’ve done for a year at home in Albuquerque, too. While writing this blog post, I re-listened to the lyrics of that song and was amazed to notice, though I sing these lyrics, how its words relate to sunrises. My spirit must have known that the song refers to Jesus as the Bright Morning Star!

If you’re unaccustomed to feeling or noticing joy of the Lord, how about reflecting on the scriptures above and also giving a sunrise or sunset a chance to inspire you, coupled with some gratitude and praise for the Master Artist of these daily phenomena? 

I’ll be expounding upon the Old and New Testament scriptures on Joy on my Radiant Joy Facebook page in the coming weeks, so please follow that page. I’ll also write about it in my forthcoming book, so please subscribe to my list to get updates on that. 

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