Lasting Joy through God’s Grace | November 20th, 2017

It was one of those perfect weekends to do a little hunting for vintage jewelry to repurpose. It has become such a fun hobby for me over the years, as well as a part-time business, so I like to keep a good variety of repurposed pieces available to sell, especially when I am asked to speak to women’s groups on the history of vintage costume jewelry. Whenever I find any pieces with the maker’s mark, it also becomes an educational experience for me. I am always very interested in learning everything I can about the designer or company who created the piece, so I spend a good bit of time researching the history behind it all.

I stopped by a local antique show and noticed one particular brooch made of glass rhinestones, small pearls, and gold filigree that was quite enticing. It had “W. Germany” stamped on the back of it.

Through my research after purchasing it, I discovered that soon after Germany had been devastated from WWII, West Germany set out to rebuild their economy. They went through a time of very rapid reconstruction, experiencing what is known as Wirtschaftswunder or “economic miracle” throughout the 1950s.

From the late ’50s on, West Germany had one of the world’s strongest economies, partly due to increased production and manufacturing of goods such as costume jewelry. The materials they used had to be inexpensive because of its struggling economy. So they produced striking jewelry made of glass, imitating gemstones. The glass used in this brooch looked like the gemstone, citrine, which is the traditional birthstone for November.

November’s Birthstone, Citrine 

Citrine is a yellow quartz with its natural color ranging between a yellow and reddish orange. The darker colors in a golden orange hue are considered more rare, increasing the value. The mineral, iron, determines the color in quartz. Amethyst, a purple variety, is closely related to citrine. When iron is heated, the iron impurities are reduced, resulting in less violet purple colors shown in amethyst and more golden orange colors which you see in citrine. It is quite possible that quartz crystals, which grew naturally as amethyst, turned into citrine by the heat from nearby volcanic activity.

This yellow quartz, found mainly in Brazil, was renamed “citrine” over 450 years ago by a German scientist named Georg Bauer. He was known as “the father of mineralogy.” The name citrine was officially adopted in 1556 when Bauer used it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The root of the word comes from the French word citron meaning “yellow,” or the Latin word citrus for the color of citrus fruit such as a lemon or yellow citron.

Choosing Joy

Have you ever watched a baby taste a lemon for the first time? They scrunch up their face with a look of intense displeasure, not at all happy about having experienced this sour and unexpected new flavor. We often have that same kind of reaction inside of us when having to deal with an unexpected difficulty that comes our way. It can be a sour experience, but there are essential lessons we learn as we go through it that can build our character and make us stronger.

Thankfully, God does not expect us to go through painful trials and heartaches without His help. One of the best lifelines He gives us is joy. We can easily become stuck in our anger, bitterness, and sorrow, but He desires for us to choose joy instead, so we can reflect Him as we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

The Apostle Paul explains God’s will for those who follow Christ:

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Opportunities for Joy

I remember going through a tremendously difficult time financially after graduating from college, trying to figure out how I could possibly make a living as an entrepreneur. I so badly wanted to have my own business as a personal fitness trainer. I struggled for five years trying to make it work. But in the end, I had to make a major change in my life by leaving my dear sister who shared an apartment with me at the time, and moving to a much bigger city by myself where I knew no one in order to continue having my own business.

Moving to Dallas gave me the opportunity to experience so much joy as I grew closer to God, trusting and relying on Him to direct every step I took, and watching Him bless me in the most amazing ways with my business and in many other areas of my life. It definitely tested my faith, but made me so much stronger after going through it.

Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

Bearing Fruit

There is a major difference between worldly joy and the joy the Holy Spirit gives us when we belong to Christ. Worldly joy is temporary and quickly comes and goes whereas the Holy Spirit’s joy is never-ending. There is always an abundant supply. As the Holy Spirit works to produce change in our character to be more like Him, the result is being able to see fruit in our lives such as joy, an important attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Bearing fruit is a part of spiritual maturity.

The outer layer of a lemon or citron fruit (pictured) is called the flavedo or rind. It contains essential oils rich in terpenes which are glands that create a strong barrier against the attacks of insects and microorganisms to keep the fruit thriving on the vine. If we are to be filled with joy, especially through our trials, we must remain attached to Christ so He can be our strong barrier against the attacks of the enemy who would be delighted to see us not bearing any fruit. When we have a close relationship with God, He gives us abundant joy, even during our most difficult challenges in life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

God’s Grace is our Joy

God deeply desires for us to experience lasting joy through Him. The words joy and rejoice appear in the Bible over 300 times! The Greek word for joy is “chara” which is closely related to “charis,” meaning grace or a gift. Chara is how we react to charis. We have joy because of God’s grace.

Through God’s grace, we can be joyful despite our circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength to get us through anything we go through in life, no matter how painful. When we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we as sinners are given so much grace, completely undeserved, as we become heirs to an inheritance that can never perish. There is no greater joy than that!

All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 1 Peter 1:3-4

Worldly Joy

Commentator, Alexander MacLaren, had a great way of describing the end result of worldly joy:

“The saddest lives are those of pleasure-seekers, and the saddest deaths are those of the men who sought for joy where it was not to be found, and sought for their gratification in a world which leaves them, and which they have to leave.”

He went on to say, “Many of our earthly joys die in the very act of being enjoyed.” 

Have you ever experienced a time when you were savoring each delectable bite of your favorite dessert, when you got to a point where you absolutely could not eat anymore of it? Your taste buds were most likely on sugar-overload and it just wasn’t nearly as pleasurable anymore. Simply stated, your joy died in the very act of being enjoyed!

Lasting Joy

If all there was to joy was what the world offered, we would have good reason to stay stuck in our anger, bitterness, and sorrow. But lasting joy comes from having a deep relationship with Christ as we live in obedience to Him and experience His great love for us. It is an indescribable joy, difficult to express but easily experienced, and best of all, lasting throughout eternity.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:1

It didn’t take long for me to decide I was going to repurpose that beautiful, post-war West Germany citrine glass brooch into a long tassel necklace…one that could be a continuous reminder of the lasting joy we can have even when life seems like it is only giving us sour lemons. For we know our final destiny is to be with Christ in His glorious Kingdom for all eternity!

Spiritual Sparklers

Sparkler #1: Prayer

Ask God to help you choose joy during the tough, painful challenges you face in your life. He desires for you to have it in all circumstances!

Sparkler #2: Action

If you struggle with having joy, spend more time talking to God in prayer and reading His Word so you can deepen your relationship with Him. Allow the Holy Spirit to help produce change in your life so you can bear more fruit.

Sparkler #3: Challenge

What opportunity for joy has God given you in a challenging situation you are facing right now? Use that opportunity to see how God is able to provide lasting joy for you.

*Citron fruit photo by Richard Huber

Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at www.kimberlymoorerings.com. 

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