Joy. Happiness. A feeling?
Sometimes, I can't find it. Sometimes, it is elusive and I wonder if they are the same thing.
Dark, billowy clouds surround the day, time, hour. A storm is blowing in. The tension is thick, the air heavy.
Am I wrong to not feel happy?
Do I not trust, love, and honor God well?
Are those two first words synonymous? To have joy and to be happy?
For me, I'm learning that I can't always find happiness. Circumstances, pain, hurtful words, or situations can rob me of that. Sometimes I sabotage myself by overthinking, overreaching, not letting go or holding on to ideals that are unrealistic.
These are the times I think of Job. I think of all he suffered, I think of how I'm not sure I could do it as well. I know I would fail.
I lose hope, I lose patience, I lose everything but my pride.
People can affect us. To live life believing it is all about not having chosen the right things is to me a blind path. Because of being created beings made for love, when it isn't there, we suffer. Maybe it is a spouse who doesn't "get" you, maybe it is friends that always seem to "use" you. Maybe it is those children that you love so dearly, bringing you to your knees in prayer.
Whatever the circumstance, sometimes we can't find happiness but is that not finding joy?
David wrote many Psalms about how far he felt from God. Not only far, but an abandoned and totally left feeling...soul in Sheol kind of pain.
So how do we weather these times, can you choose joy? I know for me, fake smiles and pep talks sometimes won't work, feeling happy just isn't possible. I can't pull myself up by my bootstraps, I have no energy.
But, I want to honor God through my storms, through those times when nothing seems to be going right. I want to allow people to see my struggles, to know that in spite of them, I know He is with me. He is standing there next to me, holding my hand, holding my whole self sometimes when a hand isn't enough. He is getting drenched with me as the rain pours down and the lightning flashes. He feels every tear that slides down my cheek.
He is with me.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
Whether or not, I choose to be happy, He is there. His joy is there. He says he will never leave us or forsake us. David, called in the Bible as a man after God's own heart and one of the most chosen, beloved, charmed men in the Bible, had so many times when joy seemed elusive. Listen to some of his words...
“I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.” Psalm 6:6-7
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest” Psalm 22:1–2
If David suffered through these things; and as we know, many of them were from his own doing(just like mine), how much different should our lives look?
Do I expect to have a life free from sorrow, to not have to face those times of doubt, soul-crushing sadness, brokenness inside and out? I guess at times in life I have. I see those who I don't think "suffer", I see the good in their lives and compare myself to them. I see marriages that never seem to struggle, lives full of more and I think there must be something wrong.
But I know He is with me, He is faithful.
Just like Job, my reward is in the knowledge of who Christ is, knowing that no matter what I suffer here, now, I have eternity. I have a time when it will all come together, the sorrows of this life will pass away and joy and happiness unspeakable will be mine.
It doesn't lessen my desire for an "easier" time. A less rocky road. I am human.
But I am hoping that through these trials I am coming closer, closer to being more like Job, more like David. Trusting in the midst of walls falling down, family and friends dying or disowning, material goods lost or never gotten. Knowing that His favor is for a lifetime and that His joy is present with me now and forever because of the cross.
"For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5
And though I may not be able to choose happiness each time and don't see the joy, I choose to be thankful and grateful. I choose to give thanks in the midst of it all.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
May I choose to rest in His joy, His comfort and to know that it is already won for me. That I don't have to dwell in my sad state, that no matter what I am going through here in this life, it is for but a moment. His favor, His joy. His comfort is for a lifetime.
From now to eternity, I have joy. I don't have to choose it, it has chosen me, through Christ's sacrifice it is my free gift. Bought and paid for.
May I live in that joy and choose to find the happiness that will accompany it on the good days and embrace the sorrow on the bad days.
His joy is unaffected by troubles and circumstances, unfettered by this earthly world. His joy is eternal, constant, and forever.
Through Him I have permanent joy.