When our hearts are aching and circumstances around us are very difficult, is it possible to have joy? For me personally, this past year or so has included some physical pain problems and also some heartbreaking situations involving loved ones of mine. If we properly understand the concept of joy, however, it truly is possible to have joy no matter what is transpiring in our lives. We can experience joy in the midst of heartbreak and right along side emotional and physical pain.
I have been reading about joy in my devotions again this week. That has been a huge blessing to me. We need to remind ourselves that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is based on perfect circumstances. Joy is based on something much more profound.
Joy is only grounded in the Lord and not on our shifting and fickle emotions. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Yet we also need to be always pursuing it, because Satan's lies and our own emotions can so easily drag us down. Personal heartaches and trials, loved one's illnesses and sorrows, and the conditions of the world around us can so easily discourage us. We should feel sorrow and heartbreak over many things around us. Yet our joy is found not in circumstances but in a Person, the Lord. Our joy is found in the character of the Lord. He is always faithful and always loves His people with an eternal love. He is also powerful to help us in our trials.
I remember in my younger years thinking that if I could just get through the next situation then everything would be good. Yet there is always a new trial or challenge to face around the bend. I remember the heartaches I felt while as his caregiver I watched my husband slowly lose his battle against his neurological disease. I remember the grief I felt when finally losing him in death. Yet my God was always faithful, and He was always present. The Lord is the definition of joy. I need to remind myself that He is also the definition of joy in current struggles.
Also it is important to remember that the more we grieve over our sins, the more joy we find as we turn to the Lord and realize all He has done for us. Further, it is important to remember that as we experience heartaches and trials our capacity for joy increases. These heartaches help us appreciate our remaining blessings. These blessings for me can include something as simple as a beautiful flower or sunrise. It can include helping others or laughter shared. It further can include a lovely evening shared with a new friend. Heartaches themselves can be a blessing, because they help us see God sovereignly working in the midst of our trials and as a result of our trials. This too adds joy to our lives. It is a supernatural spiritual thing that only comes from the Holy Spirit.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I become so weary of the constant challenges and trials. Yet without them I would not have to lean on the Lord so heavily. Without them there would not be true joy. Joy is a possession found only in the Lord. Lord, help me always to remember that when I become discouraged.