It’s okay if you’re not joyful. There are lots of good reasons to be unhappy; in fact, sadness is a reasonable response to life in this world. How else can a thinking person feel when faced with the madness?
And sometimes, sadness is the result of chemistry gone wrong in our brains.
But sad is not God’s ultimate plan for you and me.
Joy is a theme that pulses through the whole bible, especially the New Testament. Jesus wants his disciples to be as joyful as he is, and his joy was strong enough to triumph over the cross. We are even commanded to ‘be joyful’ – as though it is a choice we can make.
God wants us glad.
Joy is both a reasonable response to God and a powerful force for Him in this world. I look to God and am filled with joy, then – when I turn that joy outward – others can see God.
It is not a by-product of the right circumstances.
Years ago I was worried about my daughter and at the same time reading Mike Mason’s book, “Champagne for the Soul”, where he chronicles his 90 day experiment in joy. I remember a particular moment where I felt that God was inviting me to open up and receive His joy.
I didn’t want to.
You see, I wanted Him to do something for my daughter and unless and until He did, I didn’t really want to be happy. I felt that to be happy while she struggled would be wrong. Worse, it would show God that I was okay with the way He was handling the situation, which I wasn’t. To accept His joy while being mad at Him felt like a kind of capitulation, like giving Him permission.
My sadness was a form of protest and I wasn’t ready to surrender.
Joy is a by-product of surrender.
Joy comes when I see God for what He is: all good, all strong, all smart, and forever and ever on our side – no matter how much evidence there may seem to be to the contrary. It comes when I plant myself in God’s word and say, “This is truer than everything I see, everything I feel, and everything I have experienced so far.” And when joy comes, it opens my heart and floods it with His love.
When I look at a situation I don’t like and say, “God has this. Thank you, God, for what you are doing here and how much I’m going to love it, one day.” – joy comes.
Joy matters because it is both the proof of God’s activity in my life, and the power of it.
So, it’s okay to be sad, because that is honest and reasonable.
But get ready to be glad.