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.
6 thoughts on “Joy is Remembering”
This has confused me on more than one occasion. When I’m in a blue mood, I often get blue-er (?) thinking that I’m disobedient because I don’t feel happy. But if joy is not the emotion of happiness, but faith in God and His goodness, then I shouldn’t feel guilty about being blue–unless of course, I’m blue over a sin rather than something like hormonal fluctuations…?? Is this right? I can definitely use clarification on this joy stuff!!!
thank you…I’ve been realizing lately how joy is something totally different than what I thought it was; this expresses it well!
Billie, I think we can often feel blue and though it is hard, we can make a choice to act happy, kind, etc. despite our feelings. I think the disobedience comes in when we let those blue emotions rule us which can often lead to hurting those around us.
This post is beautiful. Many thanks to the lady who wrote it and Mrs. Wilson for posting it. My tendency in difficult times is to “do”. I want to make everything “right” right now. So, my question would have more to do with when it is wise to “do” and try to change things and when wisdom simply requires endurance of hard circumstances.
Wow, this is a great encouragement.
I think you’re right that it all boils down in the end to “who He is.” Wasn’t that what Job found out? And when the scriptures tell us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” that is a prescription for joy.
I was raised in a home where indulgence in sadness, depression, and anger was encouraged, and learning to be joyful has been a constant struggle since coming to faith as an adult. I believe, but I still have a great deal of unbelief.
The amazing thing is — and I thank Him for this continually — that the Lord has given me a husband who has a great capacity for joy, and who has been unflagging these many years in teaching me how to be joyful too. Our first year of marriage was the valley of the shadow of death, and I can’t count how many times I lost hope. A dear elderly friend, who had been through more hardship than I can fathom, warned me one day that I was listening to Satan’s lies, and that I needed to tell him to “shut up”. Since Christ conquered death and sits enthroned over heaven and earth, hopelessness and despair are complete lies. And yet they are so easy to believe when our hearts, and our faith, are weak. Reminding myself of this battle has helped me numerous times in the middle of the night, when that dark silence and cold sleeplessness have crept in to discourage me. By the grace of God, this has been a really good start to practicing joy.