I Got My Joy Back…Now What? A Deeper Understanding of Joy Through a Trip to Israel
In the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, I wrote an article about burnout stealing joy in my personal and professional life. I am thankful the Lord brought me out of that low place. He has continued to work on helping me understand what I initially wrote: “Joy is not a feeling of happiness; it is a daily commitment. According to Psalm 51:12, joy stems from understanding our worth in Christ and what we receive through His salvation. Joy starts with having the humility of a child that Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:4. Joy continues through an obedient life and trials that lead to perseverance according to James 1:2-3.”
by Christian Medical & Dental Associations®
I Got My Joy Back…Now What?
A Deeper Understanding of Joy Through a Trip to Israel
by Betsy Manor, MD
In the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, I wrote an article about burnout stealing joy in my personal and professional life. I am thankful the Lord brought me out of that low place. He has continued to work on helping me understand what I initially wrote:
“Joy is not a feeling of happiness; it is a daily commitment. According to Psalm 51:12, joy stems from understanding our worth in Christ and what we receive through His salvation. Joy starts with having the humility of a child that Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:4. Joy continues through an obedient life and trials that lead to perseverance according to James 1:2-3.”
The practice of medicine has such a focus on the natural world with its patterns of order and human behavior. Knowing these patterns does help reveal God to us, and it is what helps us become competent healthcare professionals, but it can be hard to consistently see life through the lens of a biblical worldview. It is much easier to see the world in our present circumstances and forget the span between eternity past and eternity future. Just as I was feeling this in my heart one night, the Lord directed me to Ephesians 1:17, which gave me the prayer I was longing for: “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
Traveling to Israel a couple years ago began a revelation for me, as it allowed the beautiful story from creation to Jesus to prophetic modern-day Israel come alive. I continue to work on really understanding that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26; Hebrew tselem) and that we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10; Hebrew poiema). Furthermore, God loves us so much that He “sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” so we might have eternal life (1 John 4:10). How could we possibly be more loved than this? Understanding these truths are foundational for having joy in all we do.
I was in Israel during election time, and it was hard not to think about the vulnerability of Israel and the worldwide hate that abounds. While praying with a group of friends that God would reign, I was struck by a verse I have known for many years but now had new meaning. Romans 5:8 says, “…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What a humbling realization that at some point we are all separated from God in need of His forgiveness and most of us are “grafted in” by His grace (Romans 11:17-18). In a world that so desperately needs the gospel but so adamantly denies it, having this humility is important to be able to show love and forgiveness to others. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are better than others or we are responsible for all of our own achievements. From our salvation to the very nature of who we are, God deserves the praise. Just when we begin to forget that, it seems our circumstances promptly remind us. In the last few months alone, I have been confronted with several clinical scenarios that have made me question my abilities. The scenarios ranged from a mere feeling of inadequacy to deep fear during a sudden life-threatening event that I couldn’t have prevented. While I cannot say I was grateful for the circumstances at the time, I am now grateful for the role they play in understanding how small I am and how mighty God is. I keep 2 Corinthians 3:5 posted in my office as a reminder: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” Hopefully these moments of humility that God provides can draw us in to a deeper understanding of true joy by trusting Him.
While in Israel, I had the opportunity to fellowship with 40 like-minded believers, many of whom were examples of lives lived for Christ across the decades and through countless different circumstances. They followed Paul’s prayer for the Philippians:
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God” (Philippians 1:9-11, NLT).
The world needs Christians to live different lives because we are citizens of heaven and should point others toward our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 3:20; Greek politeuma). But in this day and age it seems to get harder to want to be set apart, as that can easily mean persecution and mischaracterization. As Matthew 16:26a says, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” I am certainly not as bold about my faith as some, but as I get older it has become increasingly less fulfilling to live in the way of the world and set my faith aside out of a misguided respect for others. How can we truly have joy if we live at odds with the life we have been called to live?
Traveling to Israel was such an amazing experience as it really brought to life so many aspects of the Bible. But it also helped to remind me that I have no less access to the Lord at home in Milwaukee than I did in Jerusalem, because He gave us the Holy Spirit to work in us no matter where we are. Part of the evidence that we are living in the Spirit is having joy (Galatians 5:22). I hope a few of the things that I have learned can bring us each to a deeper understanding of joy.
Burnout is a serious concern in healthcare today, and it only has the potential to get worse as a result of the global pandemic. CMDA’s Center for Well-being is here to help you during this time. For more information about the resources available to you to face burnout and get your joy back, visit www.cmda.org/wellbeing.
Travel with CMDA
Join a CMDA Tour in 2020 and travel with your CMDA colleagues. These trips are filled with fun, fellowship, learning and wonderful Bible teaching. Go deep into the Word of God as we explore the roots of our Christian heritage. (Dates are subject to change.) For more information and to register, visit www.cmda.org/events.
Turkey – Seven Churches of Revelation
April 10-17, 2021
April 17-20, 2021 Extension
May 22 - June 1, 2021
June 1-4, 2021 Extension
Greece – In the Footsteps of Paul
May 28 - June 6, 2021
Israel – In the Footsteps of Jesus
June 8 -17, 2021
June 17-20, 2021 Jordan Extension
Fall 2021 dates to be determined
About the Author
Betsy Manor, MD, has been a Christian since she was a young girl. She grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where she attended the University of Wisconsin for undergraduate education. She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She then completed residency at Columbia-St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in 2008 and has remained there as an assistant professor since then. They predominantly serve the inner city community in Milwaukee.
 Manor, B., MD. (2017, September 01). Where Did My Joy Go...and How Do I Get it Back? Today's Christian Doctor, 48(3), 30-33.