So …You Don’t Experience Joy 24/7 …
I noticed a note I made in the margin of the book I was reading that says, “Lord…family is hurting deeply and Don and I are hurting deeply with them.
Seven days later, I added, “Still no answers, but you, Lord, have given us more peace at the same time we are hurting…”
I thought about how I tend to feel some guilt because my joy is not just bubbling up and replacing the pain. You know…the times when it can even be a struggle to smile because your heart aches so. I usually manage, but underneath I hurt.
In part, I blame my unnecessary guilt on being a reader. Reading good spiritual material can be like watching a movie. How many times the Hallmark stories get solved in unrealistic ways! Often, at the end of a movie, Don and I will chorus, “Only in the movies!” As you and I read good books that encourage our spiritual growth, we can interpret the remarks about joy more like a Hallmark movie than real life.
Joy and peace from God are not, in my experience, constant. They are fought for, through our relationship with Him. When we gain His peace…it is likely to slip away because we are created to think and feel and reason things out. Our logic, of course, can seldom predict how things turn out. For sure, our imagination is not a clear picture of what is going to happen next.
As you and I walk through the hard stuff, it is important that we not let our own flawed reasoning take over our emotions or let our imagination keep our minds in that swirling circle of fear.
Of course, we need to think through and plan. But we must do that by seeking the heart of God. “Lord…help me to see myself as you see me and others as you see them. Since you know the beginning and the end, please help me to work through this situation the way you want me to work through it rather than what looks right in my own head or is driven by my emotion and imagination.”
We don’t fight a war with flesh-and-blood weapons as our foundational weapons…ours is a spiritual war. We can’t gain lasting peace and joy simply through the help of friends or seeking the comfort of dark chocolate…though they sure do help!
Certainly…you are going to feel some pain…experience times where you lack joy. But don’t settle for the pain and joylessness. Work through it before the Lord, as many times as it takes. Gain your peace and go with it. When it leaves…regain it again, through your relationship with our God who is all wise, all knowing and all loving.
1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV)
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
James 1:2-8 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.