John 16:33 33 I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. -The Voice Translation
Joy is such a beautiful thing.
We all want it. Who wouldn’t want to embrace the emotion evoked by a sense of well-being, a state of happiness, of jubilation and delight?
We have all had periods of joyfulness in our lives along with those times of joylessness, of despair, of trials and tribulation.
Certainly today’s shattering world of COVID-19 and worldwide strife offers little joy. If we get it at all, it is often short-circuited by the myriad issues bombarding us such as:
Mental Health Issues
Oh joy, where are you?
Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.
Nobody likes pain but you cannot escape it by denying it’s there. You must embrace it. Firmly grab hold of it and take it to Jesus. Only he can bring you to a place of joy, give you a peaceful heart and a sense of hope.
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).
Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. It is one of the fruits of the spirit that Paul speaks of in Galatians 5:22-23
Galatians 5:23-23The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Bring Back That Joyful Feeling.
1. Listen to the pain of others-Listening to the story of a friend going through a difficult season provides you a tremendous opportunity to share your story. Maybe you’ve gone through a painful period and are now finding some peace and, yes, even joy in your life. Imagine how encouraging and helpful that could be to someone.
2. Lament your pain–Kind David, an adulterer and murderer, when confronted about his misdeeds, finally stepped out of his denial. He lamented before God, asked for help and ended up praising God. So, go to God with your pain. Speak boldly to him. Yell it out if you must. He will hear you. He knows your heart.
3. Dance away the pain. Zorba the Greek, one of the most well known figures in literature, when faced with his failings, would do one simple act to bring himself to a place of surrender and acceptance.
He would dance. Laughing wildly, with arms stretched out widely, he would just dance….dance…dance.
In periods of sorrow over my failings and misdeeds, I have often done the same thing. What a release it can be.
4. Realize God is the center of everything. Remember, He is in control. You’ll find hope in his every word. Trust him. Overworked emotions can often keep us in despair, in the valley of darkness. Know that God walks with you at all times.
Therefore, rest assured that he has a plan for each of us and it is not to keep us wandering in a desert of hopelessness and desperation. God wants to bring us into the light, into his loving embrace….for us to experience the peace and joy he offers us.
5. Go find your toys. Get back to those things you loved doing. Whether it be painting, writing, reading, a simple walk, playing with your dog. These are frequently set aside during times of great stress and troubles. Reclaim them.
In addition, do acts of love and kindness to others, appreciate the small things: the sunset, the breeze, the rain. Take nothing for granted. Do not neglect your feelings or the feelings of others. Be kind to yourself.
Speak to God and listen for his whispers. Acknowledge his presence. Encounter the living God.
There is a way out of any difficulty with God as your shepherd-guide. As a result, you will find your way back to a life of joy, peace and happiness.
The ideas I have tried to convey in this post are more eloquently stated in this most encouraging excerpt from Frederick Beuchner’s, The Clown in the Belfry: Writings on Faith and Fiction”, Harpercollins
“Be[ing] a good steward of your pain. . . . It involves being alive to your life. It involves taking the risk of being open, of reaching out, of keeping in touch with the pain as well as the joy of what happens because at no time more than at a painful time do we live out of the depths of who we are instead of out of the shallows.”