My number one goal this year is to cultivate a joy-filled life of purpose. Joy is not an emotion that just shows up magically, it is a deep inner sense of well-being that must be sought out. When life is going well, feeling joyful is not very difficult, but when brutal storms of life knock you down, it can feel as if joy is no longer possible.
Last year our family was thrust into deep darkness as Randy was diagnosed with cancer. In four short months, this family had its pillar of strength, the one we all looked to when life got tough, stolen from us. We were NOT ready! A vast, gaping hole was left behind. Darkness, fears, uncertainty, and the clutches of grief swooped into our lives.
If we choose to look through the lens of despair and pain, it is tempting to allow lies to speak fear over us. These fears are fueled by thoughts like, “I am all alone” or “I can’t do this by myself.” Those lies have loud, commanding voices that speak with authority. But they only have as much authority as we allow them to have. These lies are roadblocks that stand between us and joy. Lies tell us that joy is impossible when we face the darkest, bleakest, most overwhelming days of our lives. But anguish and joy can coexist, I have experienced it.
When I lost my son seven years ago, I tearfully told a dear friend that I would never experience joy again. That same friend walked me and talked me to a place where I began to have a glimmer of hope that life could be good again. You see, she came alongside me and didn’t allow me to stay isolated and in darkness. She spoke truth to me and prayed with me. She helped me see that joy does not come from our circumstances. The kind of joy she spoke of is like a constant spring, flowing deep within us, no matter what devastation is swirling around us.
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the definition of joy is gladness, mirth, to brighten or to shine. So, in the midst of darkness, how do we find joy?
Like striking a match to light a fire, it requires intentional movement and specific action. Whether you strike a match, flick your Bic, or rub two sticks together, the fire, no matter how small, brightens the area surrounding it. Once you begin to add more firewood to the kindling, the bigger and brighter the fire becomes. Soon it begins to pierce through the darkness and shine like a beacon of light. It not only reveals things you could not see before, but it also provides warmth and comfort.
Finding joy in your darkest hour is no different, it requires intentional movement and specific action. Joy is an emotion and if you are waiting on the feeling of joy to come to your rescue when you are enveloped in darkness, friend, you will be forever at the mercy of the storm. You must intentionally change your vantage point. You must also take charge of your thoughts because “you only change the way you live when you change the way you think."
Refuse to listen to the lies that tell you, "you are alone” and “you can’t do this by yourself.” Cling to the truth instead! You are not alone! All you must do is take a small step each day and before you know it, you will be amazed at how far you have come.
Remember TOM and that, “Together with God and those that surround us, we can Overcome, with faith, and even the most daunting Mountains!”
Friend, may you have the strength and courage to take a small step today. Choose to believe the truth, even if you don’t feel like it, and joy will most certainly follow.
Jeremiah 31: 13 “…I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/8055.htm
Pastor Chris Hodges, Church of the Highlands:“You only change the way you live when you change the way you think.”