There’s something surprising and enticing and beautifully calm about quiet joy. Veiled joy: a joy that sits peaceful in disappointment and says to a reeling heart and mind, “I’m still here.” What a wonder that joy is. That joy that, when the dust of your mind settles enough and you can finally take a breath, sits waiting on the broken road. That understated joy that says: I trust you Jesus. Oh, how you love me. How you carry me. How you always call me back to yourself when I wander but still pray “Jesus, your will be done,” and my wander-home catches fire and then there’s joy in the ash heap: not dancing or yelling or even laughing. But it’s there. Quiet and still and constant.
That joy is there, reliable and trustworthy: in the heartache, in the sickness, in the confusion, the brokenness, the pain, and even in the mourning. That joy catches me by surprise with its quiet presence. How did you get here? Here to my wander-home, my broken road, my ash heap. How did you get here? Here to my disappointment, my heartbreak. Joy, I think you took a wrong turn, because you don’t belong here. But joy just smiles because we both know it does.
Joy’s author is a master of redemption, and bringing joy from ash heaps and heartache is his business. We both know: joy’s best work is in the broken places. So joy just smiles and knows it’ll be felt most deeply here, where something’s gone wrong.
It took me a while to find that quiet kind of joy. A lot of walking (or stumbling) with the author along the broken road, as he wrote page after page of joy. But my vision was blurred by anxiety or self-pity or defeat or even drama, and I didn’t want to see the joy in that place, so I threw page after page I couldn’t read into the broken-road-ditch and asked the author “why did you take me here?”
By the grace of God, I didn’t let go of his hand, not even in the questioning, and thank God, because the author is a healer, and he takes anxiety and self-pity and defeat blurred vision and rubs in sanctifying mud and leads to me the river.
That’s the first place I saw real joy in the dry place: looking back from the river. I saw the scattered pages he had written so carefully, the ones my blurred vision couldn’t read so I threw them carelessly aside. With my mud-and-river-washed vision we walked slowly back through the dry place, picking up those papers, noting the places they had fallen–I could read them now.
Little One, I am Jehovah Shammah – present with you.
Child, I am Jehovah Shalom, your peace in this.
Don’t be discouraged. I am Jehovah Nissi: your banner and your victory.
I, Jehovah Jireh, will provide all that you need in this place.
You know my voice. I, Jehovah Raah, am shepherding you through this.
I am Jehovah Rapha, and I will heal every broken place.
Little One, I am Jehovah M-Kaddesh, the Lord that sanctifies you.
That quiet kind of joy can only come from one place, one of deep constancy. An anchored hope. A steadfast trust in the nature of God: his companionship, his sovereignty, his goodness.
I keep those papers with me now. Like the Psalmist crying out in times of trouble, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord, yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12) Now when I see the ash heap and the broken road, I can lift my eyes expectantly to Joy, what paper do you have for me? What part of the author’s heart do I get to see and understand more deeply?
That quiet kind of joy can be the companion of the beloved one who is anchored in hope, who understands that Jehovah Nissi provides victory in the battle, Jehovah Raah shepherds through the valley of the shadow of death, Jehovah Shalom sings peace in the chaos, Jehovah Rapha heals the broken, Jehovah M-Kaddesh sanctifies in the fire, Jehovah Jireh provides water in the desert, and Jehovah Shammah is present in the ash heap. That quiet kind of joy sits peaceful in the disappointment, the heartache, the broken road and says to the author’s beloved: I am here.
About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father.