I have a lovely friend who has experienced this first-hand, so I asked her to write a short piece about what she has learned about joy. Here it is.Â
“Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the
remembrance of His holy name” (Psalm 30:4).
Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
Part of the Christianâ€™s walk with God is to have joy. He would not
command something if it were not possible to do it. It is easy to feel
joy on a beautiful morning, or when something good has happened to us or
when we feel like a million dollars, look at the first signs of spring
and say with elated emotion, “God is so good.” But what about those
people whose winter doesnâ€™t turn to spring? Whose circumstances are
continuously night with little day dawning? Who suffer long-term under a
load that seems too heavy to bear? These people, due to situations often
beyond their control, may not feel the elated emotions of joy very
often, yet God still commands joy.
So, how is it possible to have joy in a seemingly, continuous winter? It
is because joy is not dependant upon an emotion. If it were only an
emotion, a portion of the population who needs help most would be out of
luck because they would have to feel good to get the blessings of
obeying this command. They would be dependent on getting emotions up to
have that joy.
After confessing any sin that might be causing a â€˜lowâ€™ emotional state,
and if no amount of mood management makes the emotions rise, then it is
just time to stop paying any attention to those emotions and start
thanking God for who He is anyhow, knowing that reality is what the
Bible states and is not defined by how we feel. Due to how complicated
our bodies are and how the physical and emotional affect each other,
relying upon our emotions to be right with the Lord is a shaky business.
It is sort of like standing on a paper bridge over a roaring river; one
may get a good dunking. But standing on Godâ€™s promises and knowledge of
His character is like standing on solid rock amidst the swirling water;
one never sinks.
So what is joy to the chronically ill and suffering or those who are
under the burden of a heavy load? It is remembering and taking comfort
in the fact that God is good to all His children, that He is faithful,
kind, and loving. It is knowing that this earth is not our home, and
that He showers down blessings even in the midst of storms. It is
embracing the fact that He truly cares for us in these hard
circumstances, and it is believing beyond a doubt that all that happens
to us is for our good. When we remember who He is, we are reassured that
He will somehow make all things right in the end. In this is joy.
No situation is so dismal that we cannot look up through a dark sky and
still know that there is a sun coming. We believe anyhow, even when we
see no hope. We hope anyhow just because we are His children. Like the
psalmist says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I
would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13).
If we refuse to despair, and we remember Godâ€™s goodness, God blesses. You
donâ€™t have to feel it, you just have to believe it.