"When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:19
Is it really possible to hold onto joy when hardships come? Can we actually experience joy when we go through trials? God makes a hefty promise to us as believers that we have access to joy, no matter our circumstances. We learn that His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and that though we may endure the weeping and challenges, joy will come to us (Psalm 30:5). We read time and time again the promise of joy throughout Scripture for those of us who place our hope and trust in the Lord.
But... joy doesn't come easy. To the parent holding the hand of their dying child, to the woman beaten and battered by her spouse, to the father of three who just lost his job, to the congregation that learned their pastor has been diagnosed with cancer. Joy doesn't come easy. Joy in the face of our greatest mountains and tragedies seems near impossible to feel or experience. We go through situations that make us question how joy could even fit into the picture, or if God's promise might have expired, or doesn't quite extend to us.
Joy is hard, so we prefer to chase after Joy's sister, Happy. Happy seems nice and easy. If we get the more luxurious car, if we build the new home, if we make the team, if we get accepted, if we feel the high, if the divorce gets finalized, surely we will be happy. But Happy is fleeting and often leaves us yearning for the next temporary fix, or feeling empty. Terribly empty. Don't just settle for happy. Although joy doesn't come easy to us as broken, sinful human beings, we must believe that it is promised to us, and it can surface in the midst of your pain.
The Bible tells us that the devil prowls around trying to devour us. Trying to devour our joy. So, we have to be on guard to claim that joy and not let it be stolen. Lean into God's promise. Put your hope and your trust in Him. Slowly, you will feel joy come to you. You will experience joy restored to you. You will bask in the promise fulfilled of joy. God always wants the best for you.
I consider how the apostle Paul found joy while he was wrongly beaten and imprisoned. I'm confident I could not find joy so easily, if at all, in such a scenario. But when we read the account in Acts 16, we learn that Paul was praising and dancing and sharing the Gospel with the guards and other prisoners. He had joy. A deeply rooted joy grounded in God's promise, untouched by the enemy, uninfluenced by his circumstances. Paul was able to experience joy because His hope and trust was fully in the Lord. Whatever your circumstances, joy isn't out of reach.
But how? How can we find Joy? Prayer. Pray for joy, pray against the enemy, and pray that you will have the ability to put your hope and trust in the Lord. Surrender. When you surrender your life to God, when you surrender the unrealistic or unholy expectations, you will experience joy in the unique plans God has for your life, whatever comes your way. Hope and Trust. Never forget how close God is to you. He doesn't leave you when you face battles, and He understands your greatest pains. He is there with you in your darkest hours and will see you through. What else leads you to the joy of the Lord?
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