"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." - Habakkuk 3:18 KJV (emphasis mine)
I have always thought of joy as a thing, something to possess. It is storing memories and moments in the scrapbook of your heart. It is that rope you cling to when you are at the end of yours. It is something beautiful and precious, but almost something past. When Keith died, we still found lots of joy. It was present in the care of our Savior, the love of our friends and family, and the remembering of the life of a godly man. This joy was good and right and real.
This passage talks of another kind of joy, though.
I have this print by the artist Michael Podesta in my living room:
This is joy...the word made into action...dancing!
This is how I want to live - with joy as a lifestyle - embracing whatever comes my way. I want to recognize that the Father planned my days, or at least allowed them to play out as they have, and that regardless of the outcome, it is for God's glory. I want to dance in the rain and in the pain, to see beauty around me even in the midst of the hard and ugly!
The verse our family has relied on through Keith's death and other stresses has always been Jeremiah 29:11: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " This verse has given us a lot of comfort, but I would submit that it speaks of the first kind of joy, resting joy.
If you read just a bit farther, though, to the end of the verse, I think you get at this dancing joy: "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." (verse 13)
So, I'm going to work at joying my way through 2012 -- seeking God in all the moments, good and bad, and dancing to His tune as I go!