Have you ever had one of those seasons in your life when it seems like the bad stuff outweighs the good? It doesn’t necessarily mean that good things aren’t happening; it just means that the bad stuff seems bigger in comparison.
For me, those are the times when the joy of the Lord seems like an unattainable dream rather than reality. Do these times mean that we’ve lost our joy? What are we supposed to do?
It feels like I’m in a season like this right now. This year, we’ve experienced deaths of family members – human and animal. I lost one friendship, and one of my best friends just moved to England with very little notice. It’s been a super busy summer, and though some really awesome good things have happened, like starting Faith Chats with Project Inspired, sometimes it still feels like the bad things this year are overshadowing the good. It’s hard to remember joy.
The first thing we need to know about the joy of the Lord is that it doesn’t mean we’ll always be happy. The joy of the Lord is about where our focus is. It’s not about always having a smile on our faces. To experience the joy of the Lord (a.k.a. the joy of our salvation), our focus needs to be on the Lord and the sacrifice He made to renew our relationship with Him.
It’s impossible to maintain this kind of joy when our focus is on earthly things or our own circumstances. The trouble is that we’re human, and sometimes our focus gets divided, right? School can keep us focused on the stress of homework and grades, the death of loved ones can keep us focused on grief, and falling into temptation can keep us focused on guilt and failure.
When we find this happening, girls, we need to reorient our focus. The natural reaction of the body when we feel sad, defeated or depressed is to hang our heads, looking down. When you notice yourself doing that, make a point to look up instead. I know it sounds simple, but it refocuses our attention and reminds us to look to God.
During the times when we feel least like praying, reading the Bible or going to church, we need to give ourselves the extra push and make those things happen. To keep the joy that God has for us, we need to keep Him in our sight as much as possible.
Girls, do you have any tips for renewing joy?
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:10-11).
More Stories Like This on Project Inspired: