We HAVE joy in Jesus.
Sometimes that joy and our emotions are synced in such a way that we can literally feel it running over. Circumstances delight and moments of pleasure and gladness are etched on our faces, the eyes twinkle and the smiles come without a thought.
Yet, we all know that there are other times when moments of sadness are equally etched on our faces, and the ache of our hearts is physically painful.
If we are truly “in Christ,” JOY is a gift; we may not always “feel” it, yet the Truth is made secure in our souls.
But life is hard.
We have to choose – not a fake pasted smile or a masking of real hurt, but an abiding contentment and trust regardless of the circumstances.
But life is hard
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace…so, take heart,” Jesus said, and He meant it because He follows it with the truth of why we can, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
But life is hard.
So, I have to intentionally set my gaze.
I have to deliberately take every thought captive.
I have to purposefully give my emotions to the One who carries me in the most stifling and frightening of circumstances.
When fear threatens to undo me…
When wounds both past and present sting and literally cause me to ache…
When everything feels shaky…
When God has plans for me for which I must reset my desires…
When the Lord reveals idols – even good things given too treasured a place in my heart – and tells me to leave them at His feet…
I have to intentionally rethink “how” I’m thinking.
If I dwell on all those “hard things” above, I can spiral just like the next person and joy will elude me.
But if I set my mind on things above not on earthly things…
If I set my eyes on the Truths of the God’s Word instead of the lies of the enemy…
If I remember that, as a child of the Living God, redeemed by Jesus, that I don’t have to be ruled by the emotions that have often turned my eyes inward…
My feet will become like clay.
I remember as a teenager, I would literally watch the saddest movies and listen to the most depressing songs for the purpose of crying. Why I did that, I have no idea, other than maybe I thought that if I cried about someone else’s pain or another’s mixed up ideas about life, the things in my life that were sad and hard wouldn’t seem so bad or it would cause me to think more clearly. What a recipe for disaster and so contrary to what the Lord has told us to do with our thoughts.
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
If I am dwelling on a particular sorrow more than the God who has promised to “work all things together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) and who has continuously promised to never leave nor forsake those who are His, the load will grow heavier and my sight will be more clouded.
If I am holding onto my cares, rather than casting them onto Him, I will be crushed by the weight.
If I am running to any source that is offering comfort but is not rooted in His Truth, I am not choosing joy and will be robbed of peace.
Instead, we are told to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) It is there that true rest begins, even in sadness.
Giving our concerns, our fears, our deep sorrows to the Lord doesn’t deny their existence nor the weight of emotions we feel. It simply resets on what or on whom we will set our hearts and minds, who we will trust to carry us when our steps are weary and our hearts are troubled beneath that weight.
I have to speak to myself like the Psalmist,
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5)
I have to remind myself of what God has said and what is true lest I be deceived by the enemy of my soul who wants to take my eyes off the Lord, cause me to forget the steadfast mercies and provisions of the Lord in the past, and fear what lies ahead. Essentially, as from the beginning of time, the desire of the enemy is to get me to question the goodness and might of the God who is Sovereign and Almighty and who is also our Peace.
Instead, I will remember!
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord.” (Psalm 77:11)
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, O Lord!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
“Is anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
He may not answer and “perform” the deeds as I would write the story, but He will do great deeds for His glory and according to His good plan. And, in the process, He will move my heart, change my spirit, set my feet on solid ground.
He will be “near to the brokenhearted; He will save those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
We may not “feel” happiness or a welling up of positive emotion in the midst of sadness, but I know that over again God has restored my soul in the midst of hard. He has given me a joyful peace in the in some of the most crushing moments in my life as I submitted my sorrow to His tender hands, and He comforted me in His great mercy, changing my perspective and heart towards either a person or a situation. Only He could do that; only He has.
THAT joy is unexplainable; THAT joy is a gift from a gracious God to His child. I could reject the gift and stay steeped in sorrow, hurt, or brokenness or I can lay down my emotions and allow them to be transformed by His Spirit, renewed by His Word.
But it all begins with a choice. Will I set my eyes and my heart and choose Him, choose Truth, and so choose joy?
“Without truth there can be no peace; without Jesus there can be no truth.” (Virgil Walker)
“Who do I have in heaven but You? And with You, I desire nothing on earth! My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…but, as for me, the nearness of God is good for me; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so that I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:25-28)
That’s where I run.
I choose joy!