How can I get my joy back?
If I was asked this question a year ago, I would have been very confident in how I responded.
Today I don’t know.
I guess that isn’t 100% true, sometimes I just “feel” like I don’t know. My emotions feel like a jumble of “I don’t knows”.
Even though there are a lot of good answers on how to find joy, I can tell you this, not all circumstances merit that cliche answer many people like to throw out there.
ie~ “choose joy”.
It isn’t always that simple. The “fake it till you make it” mentality doesn’t work when it comes to joy. Sure we can change our attitudes and mindset to reflect happiness, but in some circumstances the darkness is still buried deep inside, no matter our good intentions .
The good news is, there is Someone Who will always be our answer. THE answer to every heartbreaking circumstance this world throws at you.
Jesus~ first and foremost.
Actually, only Jesus.
He’s the answer.
God obviously knew that our human hearts would still struggle. He knows our frame. (Psalms 103:13-14) He is our strength through every circumstance. We’re the ones who forget. So he gave us His word. The Bible. And in it we find a wealth of wisdom on how to find joy.
The hard part is applying that wisdom to our everyday lives.
How do you find joy when you’ve lost more loved ones in the last year than ever before? How do you find joy after coming home from a heart wrenching funeral of the dearest friend, only to find your precious daddy gone without warning the very next day? How do you smile when your heart hurts terribly for friends and loved ones going through their own heart wrenching moments? Sickness, job loss, accidents, affairs, abusive relationships, death. When sleep won’t come because you can’t stop hurting for them? Or for yourself? When you feel like joy and Jesus are very far away?
And in the unexpected moments when you do catch yourself smiling and feel a little spark of that joy, you immediately feel guilt along with it.
Our little church has been bombarded with heartache lately. Truly tough stuff. It’s knocked the air out of our lungs as my husband and I try to minister.
Last week I woke up feeling like this heavy cloud was hanging over my life. Our lives. I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to sit in front of my cozy fire, oblivious to my circumstances and forget everything. I wanted to smile again. I wanted to go back to when things were predictable and happy.
When I woke up feeling that way, I could almost picture that black cloud hovering above me and all I could utter was~
“God please help me.”
And He did.
God immediately reminded me of the story in the Old Testament about the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. (You can read about it here~Exodus 13:21-22, 40:34-38, Numbers 9:15-23, Psalms78:14)
If you’re not familiar, God led them with a cloud by day.
The moment God brought that picture into my head felt like freedom.
God was in that cloud.
It was His reminder to me that He is always with me, even in the dark clouds hanging over my life. He is in control and despite feeling hopeless, He is in that cloud protecting and guiding me.
Not only did God lead and protect them with a cloud by day, He also gave them a pillar of fire by night. Just as I longed for my predictable life and the comfort of sitting next to my cozy fire, I saw that pillar of fire that God provided as comfort too. (John 14:8)
If you continue digging deeper into God’s words you will find that the pillar of cloud and fire were continually leading and when they stopped, the people were to stop and set up God’s tabernacle. That tabernacle was God’s gracious presence. A place to reside for a time. A home. A dwelling place.
God showed me that He is always leading. Sometimes my moments might feel cozy, warm and comfortable and other times I might feel like a dark cloud is parked over every facet of my existence. That’s when God wants me to stop. Stop wandering on my own and just be home with Him in His beautiful presence, beside the still waters (Psalms 23) and among the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) . He tells me I can stay as long as I need because He will never leave. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) He is my dwelling place no matter what circumstances look like all around me. (Psalms 46:1-2, 91:1-9)
Despite that phenomenal story of God’s leading in the Old Testament, His children still complained. They were still afraid. They wanted to go back to their predictable lives back in Egypt, even though they were slaves in that predictable existence. They missed all the beauty that was ahead for them. All that God had prepared for them.
I don’t want to miss the beauty God has ahead for me. I don’t want to just exist and be a slave to my circumstances. I don’t want you to miss God’s beauty either. That dark cloud that you might feel is constantly looming overhead, that cloud is guiding you.
Whatever your cloud might be, God is in it.
In the next few weeks I would like to take you on a journey with me. The journey to find joy again. I want to help you to see that God is in that cloud. I want to show you specific ways God has shown me how to find joy again, despite the deeply sorrowful circumstances we might be in.
I want to share with you my Savior’s solutions.
He is there. Don’t let go of that hope.
Joy will come again.
My heart is glad. My whole being rejoices. My flesh rests in hope.
(Psalm 16:7-11, 30:5, 34:17-19, Isaiah 41:10)