Life is hard.
There are times when suffering and difficulty seem like the new and only reality. There are times where smiles and laughter and hope seem like far off and unattainable mirages.
There are many situations that can make us feel helpless and hopeless. You might experience a broken relationship. Perhaps you lose your job or experience a setback in schooling. Maybe you are affected by the consequences of sin, your own or someone else’s. Or, like myself, maybe you just lost someone you loved and cared for. Whatever the situation is, it is important that we understand that grief and mourning are natural. These two things are an important part of the process of eventually moving forward. Another, and perhaps the biggest part of the process is resolving to live with joy.
Joy may seem like a strange thing to talk about in the midst of suffering, but it is, in fact, the most vital to our spiritual and emotional health.
You see, joy is not an emotion, contrary to whatever the popular movie Inside Out would say. The emotion that most people often mistake joy for is happiness. Happiness, like all other emotions, is good and can be helpful. However, happiness, just like all other emotions is fleeting. Emotions change based on circumstance. Joy is not an emotion because it does not have to change based on our situation.
So if joy is not an emotion where does it come from? The simplest and most correct answer is from God Himself. Galatians 5:22 lists joy as part of the Fruit of the Spirit-things that are visibly evident in those who “belong to Christ Jesus.”
No matter what situation we are going through we must remember that God’s promises still and always ring true.
“God is our refuge and strength a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46)
“do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Romans 8:18 is a promise for those who know and trust Jesus. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed.”
Revelation 21 talks about a time where God will “wipe away ever tear…and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.”
Joy in the midst of mourning makes sense when we have an eternal perspective.
We must realize that there is much more to life than just simply our present situation.
We must realize that God is a God of hope, and peace, and joy.
Understanding these things isn’t some magical silver bullet that will in the blink of an eye make everything better. However, realizing these things causes us to cling to our savior and “cast all of our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.” Because it is in our weakness that His strength is magnified.
This last week has been very tough for me and for a lot of people that I care for. But what we must remember is Philippians 4:4. We must rejoice in the Lord always. Even now. Because this is when we need joy the most.
If anyone is experiencing pain don’t push that pain away and try to hide it. But please remember, there is so much more to life than what you currently feel.
I pray that Romans 15:13 will be true for all of us.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”