Where’s My Joy?

A dear friend sat down beside me the other day and said, “You have been through quite a few hard things in your life. How have you kept your joy?”  The question stunned me.  This dear Christian friend is  bubbly, fun-loving and full of energy but deep inside she is hurting.  She is facing a difficult, painful situation that breaks a mom’s heart and is struggling to keep her head above water.   Her question was honest and sincere.  I heard her heart and felt her pain. For a few moments I couldn’t even speak.

I had no answer. In that moment anything I could think to say seemed trite.  How can you have joy when you are hurting so deeply and life just doesn’t seem fair?  How can you have joy when you are bone-tired and your neck and shoulders ache with tension? How can you have joy when you care so deeply for someone who is making unhealthy, unwise and sinful decisions? How can you have joy when it seems God isn’t answering your pleading on bended knee?

Sometimes we spout off easy, almost trite answers….. it is God. That may be true, but my friend is also a Christian with a deep, abiding faith and right now, she is not feeling joy.  She is trying to survive fear, anger, disappointment, and frustration.

This friend has been on my mind and this morning for my devotions I read Psalms 3.  The Psalmist, King David, was in a difficult, dangerous situation. He was fleeing for his life because his oldest son, Absalom, had won the support of his closest advisers and anointed himself king over Israel . David knew his life was in danger as Absalom would have to kill him in order to firmly secure the kingdom.  As David with his family and closest friends flee under cover of night he cries this prayer…..

But Lord, you are my shield, my glory, and my only hope. You alone can lift my head, now bowed in shame.[a]

I cried out to the Lord, and he heard me….[b] Then I lay down and slept in peace and woke up safely, for the Lord was watching over me. And now, although ten thousand enemies surround me on every side, I am not afraid. I will cry to him, “Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God!” …..

For salvation comes from God. What joy he gives to all his people.

Joy?  Is David out of his mind?  If you read the scripture the people were weeping, barefoot, dressed in sackcloth and covered with ashes. This was a sign of deep sorrow and grief.  This man was just trying to make it through the night and keep his sanity.   I have been there and probably you have also.

In Psalms 30 David shares the blessedness of answered prayer.

I will exalt you, Lord,  for you lifted me out of the depths  and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

Lord my God, I called to you for help,  and you healed me.

You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;  you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;  praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,  but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning…….

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;  you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

My belated advice to my friend is to trust in the promises of God. God is with you. He is your peace in the storm.  He is your strength when you have none. He is your rock when your feet are sinking in quicksand.  Your sorrow will not last forever, joy will come in the morning.  In the meantime, determine to fill your mind and heart with scripture, the precious promises of God’s faithfulness, His love, His care for you and trust Him.  Believe in the goodness of  God.
God does not cause our trials, the difficult things that hit us like a furious storm.  Yes, God could have prevented it, but He also allows us to experience life and sometimes the brutal forces of evil.
And remember…..In the morning you will see the faithfulness  and mercy of God and joy will come.

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