Earlier this year, as I sought the Lord’s guidance regarding the months ahead, a theme emerged that had me confused. He quietly spoke to me about joy and that I should expect it. I was coming out of a barren wasteland, a season of heavy rebuke, and was slowly being built back up again… but to have joy? This seemed out of reach if I’m honest. I was nervous to hope. Joy was not part of my life and hadn’t been for some time. Would I even recognize it?
As David wrote, “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favour for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:4-5).
These words rang true in my head, but in my heart I felt shackled to hopelessness and fear. However, as promised, joy began to present itself in my life, in small ways at first, and then in larger ways, or so I thought.
What really happened was those small moments of joy became big moments as my heart opened to accept and my eyes opened to see. I realized I was beginning to choose joy. And all of a sudden I wasn’t a slave to my regrets and mistakes. I wasn’t stuck thinking I deserved the rebuke of the Lord endlessly, which is where the hopelessness and fear stemmed from.
James spoke to this in writing, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (1:2-4).
In the season of dryness I had failed to see the beauty in the trials. I couldn’t see the blessing in it. How often does this happen? We think our prayers aren’t being answered because we aren’t receiving the answer we think we need. When things are going well, it’s so easy to be hopeful and faithful. It’s so easy to praise and give thanks and have joy and think we have everything under control. But how many of us can honestly do that in the dark times?
I’m not saying I never revert back to that place of faithlessness, but I can now say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have power in the Spirit to make a choice even when it’s hard. If Paul can say in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” amongst his turmoil than why can’t I? If he can again proclaim, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) then why shouldn’t I?
I challenge you to choose joy today, tomorrow and everyday, even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason. Even when you can’t fake the smile, joy comes in the morning. We walk forward knowing we are one step closer to our Father’s house. We can walk knowing He knows what’s best.