Monday, January 13, 2014


OK, so I knew that I was going to have some trouble with my new Word for 2014 – JOY.

I just didn't know that it would come so soon.

A week ago, my dad somehow flipped himself out of bed, lost his balance, and crashed into a night stand.

He is injured, in a lot of pain, in the hospital, and he cannot come home at this time.

So, this has been a week full of information overload, investigating the next steps, agonizing decision-making, and more talking than I have ever done in my life.

I have been strong, but I've experienced moments of overwhelming sadness. I have had peace, but I've experienced moments of daunting anxiety.  And boy, I am so incredibly tired.  Not much sleep, a lot of long days.

But, I have NOT walked one step alone.

First of all, family has *circled the wagons* – and we've been a united front.  So, I am not walking this new path without the support of my loved ones.

And, of course, the Lord has been with me.

In fact, His Presence has been so tangibly real that I can practically feel His hand in mine.

And though this trial is most difficult, I find that I am experiencing…yes…JOY.

(I'm as shocked as you are!)

Not happy – because who could be happy with these most painful circumstances?  

But joy?  Yes.

A deep, abiding sense that all is well, for I know that the Lord is in control.

And here's something He's teaching me…

It has occurred to me that often when the Lord wants to develop a characteristic in you, He lets you be tested in that area.  So, if this is the year that He wants me to learn how to be joyful, He's going to go to work on testing me.

To tell you the truth, this was one of the things that I was afraid of when He gave me this word.

My thought?

"Oh no.  If God wants me to learn joy, He's going to send a bunch of trials."

I do not want a bunch of trials.  (Do you???)

And yet, here I am, less than two weeks into the new year, and He is allowing a HUGE trial.  Probably the hardest thing I've ever had to experience in my life.


I used to think that testing was cruel.

Like the Lord was a mean teacher who delighted in constantly giving surprise pop quizzes that nobody was ready for, and therefore, would most certainly fail.

Or maybe He was the taskmaster coach, who ran you through endless practice sessions of hurdling.  Sort of a *steeplechase approach* to life.  Up and over, into the water, jump this, jump that.

And then, just for fun, He'd throw an obstacle in the road, just so you had to figure out how to get around this trial or circumstance or situation – (or get hopelessly stuck and stopped in your tracks.)

But I'm not thinking that so much anymore.

I'm beginning to understand a new side to this faith testing that He does.

You see, it's not so much that He needs to test my faith to see how strong it is it's that He's allowing ME the opportunity to see how strong my faith is.

Does that make sense?

Is He testing me to make me stronger?  Yes, that's part of it.  But I am also having the wonderful chance to see that yes, indeed, under difficult testing, I AM strong!

Do you remember the Gold Rush?  (No, I'm not asking whether you lived through it!!)

There was a process called assayingin which the metal ore was tested.  

(Dictionary definition: To subject (a metal, for example) to chemical analysis so as to determine the strength or quality of its components.  It is the process of melting down, stirring and separating the gold from other elements, to determine the amount and value of pure gold).

That's what I feel like this testing is all about – assaying my faith.

And during this last week, it's been worth its weight in gold!

So, here I am – two weeks in, and my new Word for the YearJOY – is working out.  

In spite of the testing…

JOY can be found in knowing that God is in control.

JOY can be found in knowing that God is leading you through circumstances beyond your control.

JOY can be found in knowing that you are listening to Him well, and following Him closely.

JOY can be found in Jesus, Only You!

Though the rain comes in torrents
and the floodwaters rise
and the winds beat against that house,
it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock. 

"Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2, NLT)

"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart." (Proverbs 17:3, NIV)

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts…and lead me along the path of everlasting life." 
(Psalm 139:23-24, NLT)

"Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness." (Psalm 26:2-3, NIV)

"'I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.'" (Jeremiah 17:10, ESV)

"'Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.'" (Isaiah 48:10, NASB)

"'I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'" (Zechariah 13:9, NLT)

"…he knows where I am going.  And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.  For I have stayed on God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.  I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food." (Job 23:10-12, NLT)

How is God testing you lately?

Linked today with:

Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAYS

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Hi Sharon, You have made me think about my word endurance. Yes perhaps the Lord is showing me at the moment that I can endure and it will produce hope that will not disappoint me. Thank you for sharing this post and may you continue to be aware of The Lord holding your hand, that is a wonderful feeling, which I have experienced recently also - God Bless

  2. Sharon, I am so sorry you are having to go through these things with your dad...I pray he will be able to heal and the Lord gived clear direction of what your next steps will be. you said, sometimes it takes circumstances like these to test the JOY factor. Our joy is strengthened when we experience tough situations and we look back and realize how HE carried us through and made us stronger in the process. Some people confuse joy with happiness...of course, we know it's not the same.
    I am so glad you are finding joy in these not-so-joyful days. Your post has spoken to my heart :)

    Have a blessed week!

  3. Dear Sharon
    Thank you so much for your great sense of humor even though you are going through a time of great testing. I pray that your father would soon be able to go home. Yes, my friend, it is there in the greatest darkness where Jesus' light forms the most brilliant halo encircling us!
    Blessings XX

  4. I truly am sorry that your dad is going through this difficulty and you and your family are dealing with the repercussions. It is a difficult time, I know! But, what a wonderful thing to experience joy in our trials! Our God is so good...I love your perspective that He is testing you, not for His benefit, but for yours - so you will know how strong you are! Blessings and joy to you, Sharon!!

  5. So sorry your dad has had this thanks he is getting the help and support he needs and that you are too. What a blessing that God walks with us. I kept thinking of a verse we say over and over here..."The Joy of the Lord is my strength" in Nehemiah 8:10. Your post is a wonderful testimony of how uses that trials that come our way to benefit us and show His glory.

  6. I am sorry about your dad and his accident and the tough decisions you all had to make, which I know ultimately is for the best, but often are hard ones nonetheless. I love how you could feel Joy through it all and how you relied on Jesus to be with you through this journey. So true how God tests us, and so true how it is for our own good; sometimes we don't see it that way though, but then in looking back we realize it was. Good that you are seeing this part of your journey as you walk through it. Hugs to all!


  7. I'm not surprised that you have found joy through this trial...I know that you know that I know all about this subject...LOL!
    God does refine us like gold...and He does so because he loves us so much, and He knows that beneath all the exterior mumbo jumbo there is pure and precious gold in our soul...It hurts to get 'buffed', but we do shine up real pretty for Him...Like the old hymn: Shining for Jesus'.
    All tears are wiped away and replaced with perfect joy!
    I AM PRAYING FOR YOUR DAD AND YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! (oops, hit the caps lock again...)
    Blessings and love to you, my friend~ Lisa

  8. Oh I hope now that you have passed this test - - that God will say, enough she has joy so I will trust her and NO more tests. At least I pray that is so. Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story."

  9. Hi Sharon, you are an inspiration to me and lots of others I'm sure. Its not easy being strong, joyful, full of energy, etc etc, its really tough. But it is like you say, you do not walk alone. Infact, God is your strength, your joy, your energy. Praying for you and your dad.
    God bless

  10. You said,

    "You see, it's not so much that He needs to test my faith to see how strong it is – it's that He's allowing ME the opportunity to see how strong my faith is.

    Does that make sense?"

    I said, (right out loud in fact) YES. It makes sense.

    I have experienced the same realization myself. I remember after my big brother passed away that I was driving around town and realized that I was breathing. Now, that might seem odd to say, but I had been completely certain that I couldn't possibly breathe after he died. Yet, there I was, breathing away. I wouldn't have picked losing him for all the world, but what God showed me after the fact was that I was a whole lot stronger than I thought I was. It was a good thing, too, because my Dad's cancer was discovered the day that my brother stopped breathing.

    And I was going to need to do a lot of deep breathing in the years that followed.

    Now, I ask you: Does THAT make sense?
    Please say yes.

    I continue to lift you in prayer for not only strength, but that joy joy joy joy... down in your heart.

  11. Blessings, Sharon - to you AND your dad, and for his quick recovery. So much testing of late and barely into January! How glorious that the Lord loves us so much as to take such pains to make us more like Him. The worst teachers in school were the indifferent ones. The ones who just had you doing endless hours of busy work because they were not engaged enough in their call to actually engage you - mentor to student. God is ever present and I love how you felt Him holding your hand - showing you how very strong He had made you to be. A reason for Joy, to be sure. May you know the fullness of His purposes in this trial - and face what 'ere lies ahead with His abundant gifts - spilling out upon the family you love, for His glory.


  12. Thanks for sharing Sharon :-)
    I hope you dad will be okay soon, and that you find joy in the smallest pleasures of life. I am so happy to meet you :-) I am inviting you to visit me here

  13. Love the insight that you are already gleaning from your word Sharon. God certainly knows what he put in us so it's no surprise to him when He sees that rising to the top during the difficult times. I pray your dad gets better soon.

  14. I'm so sorry your dad is in pain, but I'm celebrating your joy with you! :) Thank you so much for sharing. (Visiting from Simply Beth's Three Word Wednesday).

  15. I hope your dad is better. I know that is super scary!

  16. Thanks for your post. It was an encouragement to me. I know things can be very hard but the Lord sees us though. Praise His Name!

  17. Everyone has said so much by the time I get here so I always try to write from a little different place. I will tell you - now you are so overwhelmed you almost feel numb. But 10 years from now you will look back and wonder how you did it.

    God was there.


  18. I can say...with a shout! AMEN!! Last year I put Joy on my word transition and through all we went through God showed me His joy, and yes, He showed me my own faith. I am still walking it out, but I met Him in a whole new way.
    So, so sorry...and praying for you right now!

  19. I am SO glad we are on this JOY journey together. This was packed with goodness I needed to hear. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad and I will be praying for him, but love how God is shining your word in your life. I start to hum... "The little word of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.. let it shine...let it shine." :)

    I believe it was a God thing we connected shortly before God giving us our words for the year. Isn't He just amazing!

    Much love my friend,

  20. I am so sorry about your dad's accident.

    I feel as though I've been in a very long testing phase. I am thankful for a friend who helps me look back and see just how much progress--in my faith as well as in the circumstances--has been made. I'm glad you can see your faith shining and your joy blossoming!

  21. Aww Sharon ... no truer words could be spoken than those shared here by you on the TESTING! (and my typo that I just fixed started with TRSTING ... which would mean TRUSTING is also part of this "1, 2, 3 Testing " and you are so, so right!

    And I am so, so sorry about your dad, and my heart aches for you and your dad and mom and family, that the test includes all of them(of course, God would use those closest to us) however your attitude of accepting this with JOY is so admirable, even though I'm sure it's so painful, trying, heart breaking, and really asking you to go beyond and seek the JOY of the Lord as your strength and a lifeline to the others, like your mom. I am so sorry that your dad is in pain and will continue to pray for the SON to shine in those torrents of rain clouds (Beautiful photo depicting this!)

    I pray that you will weather this storm well and feel God's constant presence and JOY in the midst of such a journey. May God restore you and your own strength during this heavy drain on you as He carries your burdens and you up the mountain and down into the valley ... You are worth your weight in gold! I love you
    as I hold your arms up in Praise inspite of the pain, Adoration instead of the ache and Worship (P.A.W.) through it all with JOY (Jesus Only You)! [my one word fits in place of yours in the lessons learned so far in 2014 too ... even Jesus Only You works except lets exchange that for an acronym for mine too from Greg Laurie; "Holding On with Patient Expectation"] ... ohhh that our hearts would learn to wait and not feel so much as we hold on to God's Promises with HOPE!~Peggy

  22. Oh, Sharon! I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Praying for him (and his daughter) tonight. I loved it when you said that your family was "circling the wagons." Thanks for reminding me that "Joy can be found in knowing that God is in control."

    So glad you linked up with Thought-Provoking Thursday! :)

  23. Praying for His hand to be upon each and every aspect of your dad's care and healing, and strong upon your heart as you continue to abide in His care and dwell in His joy!

  24. Oh, friend ... I'm so sorry to learn of your dad's injury. I know how difficult it is, watching a parent injure themselves then end up in the strange surroundings of a hospital, and having to stand around pretty much helpless. But, thank the Lord for family.

    Joy is a great word, and it cannot be stifled because of dire circumstances.

    Prayers for you and your family.

  25. Beautiful words as always, Sharon. It's amazing how difficult times, though really hard and really sad, can actually be used by God to strengthen us and grow us. I pray that your dad's pain is healed quickly.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  26. Joy can be found through testing! Great reminder. Thanks for sharing.

  27. This is fantastic "it's not so much that He needs to test my faith to see how strong it is – it's that He's allowing ME the opportunity to see how strong my faith is."

    I also like how you talk about testing that word for the year.

    I followed your link-up from My Freshly Brewed Life.

  28. Saying a prayer for your father, asking the Lord to heal him and bring him home soon. I love the scripture, "the joy of the LORD is my strength". He alone is our strength and our joy. Blessings!

  29. Joy was my word for last year and the Lord brought me joy. Although it isn't my word this year (I wanted it to still be) and I chose another word (fervent) it is still my word. I don't want to loose joy just because I move onto a new word. I am finding things have drastically changed for me and I am learning to have joy though I don't like a certain circumstance.

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post for WholeHearted Wednesdays.


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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