I am not a joyful person.
Gosh, that feels good to admit.
Contrary to what my blog tries to portray and how I try to be fun, loving and motivational on Social Media, none of that actually comes naturally to me. Joy does not come naturally to me. Faithful thoughts (you know, the title of my blog) do not come naturally to me. This is partially why I don’t write in my blog as often as I do. Because I have to muster up everything in me to speak faithful thoughts. It tires me out. It takes all of me to come up with something to say.
I know this about myself. God knows this about me. In fact, it’s true for a lot of us just because of the world we live in. I’m not sure if I’ve always been like this or if something switched along the way in life, but I do know I hate it. And I spend everyday trying to correct it.
The incredible best selling author, Ann Voskamp once wrote, “Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.” Vital. As in super important, as in when you’re heart is not beating so well your vital signs are not looking so good. Joy is vital.
You live only when your heart beats.
You live only when your vital signs are good.
You live only when you’re joyful.
Am I truly living? I wonder sometimes.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I love my life. I love my husband, my family, my friends, my job. It’s all beautiful and wonderful. But the truth is, I’m human. And most days, I let bad circumstances keep me from enjoying these beautiful and wonderful things. I let one bad story or one bad traffic jam or one person’s ignorance bother me to a point where it completely pours over anything good in my life and no matter how many times I use the windshield wipers to clear my view, it never stops pouring and my vision is blurred.
Because I let my circumstances get in the way of my joy.
We sometimes take the meaning of joy to mean the same as being happy. This is simply not true. Happiness and joyfulness are not one in the same.
Happiness has to do with our circumstances. Joyfulness has to do with our hearts.
Happiness is a feeling, not a core trait deep in your soul.
Feelings come and go.
You see, I am happy, as long as my circumstances are good. But as soon as something changes, my foundation shakes. Why? Because I spend too much time building my foundation on my earthly circumstances instead of on the One who is bigger than the circumstances. This reveals my weakness.
I lack joy in my heart.
Is this ringing true for anybody else? Or am I admitting something that is making your jaw drop in disbelief?
Just because you’re happy, doesn’t mean your joyful, and even if you’re joyful, it doesn’t mean you’re always happy. In fact, God never promises happiness in life. But he commands us to be joyful. Because God knows we won’t always have perfect circumstances. He gets that. We are a broken world. He doesn’t expect us to be happy all the time with what’s in front of us. But He does know that He is a perfect God who created us, who loves us, who actually put His son in dire circumstances to bless us, and to not be joyful in these facts is to sin against God. He expects joyfulness, even in our pain.
When I learned this, that’s when I had my “jaw dropping moment.” Are you serious, God? How do you expect me to be joyful when my aunt is in her second go around of Breast Cancer and the diagnosis is not the best one? How do you expect me to be joyful when it takes me an hour and a half to get to work every morning? How do you expect me to be joyful when I see good friends lose fathers, and parents lose their children? How do you expect me to be joyful when every piece of news on TV is either tragic, horrific or full of hate? How do you expect me to be joyful in such a broken, messed up world?
You want the truth? God says.
You can be joyful in this broken world because this is not the only world. You see, there’s a better one, in fact, a perfect one that has your name written all over it. See, you know that song that Carrie Underwood sings, you know ‘This is my temporary home…’ – yeah, that one? She’s right. Stop worrying. Your future is set. Your home is waiting. But, right now, you need to live out your life down here. Go. Be joyful in this truth: You’ll have eternity with Me, your loving, unchanging Father.
It’s this truth I must continue to build my foundation on, everyday. Because this life is forever changing, forever broken, forever filled with horrible circumstances. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be thankful for these circumstances. Did you know that? You know what verse in the Bible I’ve misquoted the most in the past?
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
That’s a pretty well known verse in the Bible. And this verse might make you question everything I just said above. Wait. You just said God doesn’t expect us to be joyful (or thankful) for all our bad circumstances.
You’re right. He doesn’t expect us to be thankful or joyful for our circumstances. He never says that.
He says be thankful IN all circumstances. In other words, we don’t have to like our circumstances. Honestly, our circumstances can flat out suck.
You think God wants a daughter to be thankful for her Dad dying?
You think God wants my aunt to be thankful for a second go-around of cancer?
You think God wants any family member linked to 911 to be thankful for that heinous day?
God says that’s ridiculous. He knows how crappy this life can be. God’s not thankful for 911 either. He didn’t cause that to happen. That wasn’t God’s will. Here’s another misinterpretation of this verse. So many people think every little thing in life, good or bad, is God’s will. This is not true. God is only good. God’s will was for this to be a perfect life when He created Adam and Eve. The day they sinned was the day God’s will, at least His original plan to fulfill it, was broken.
This is plan B. Bad things will happen in this world, whether God causes them to happen or not. But this won’t stop God from fulfilling His will. He will take every pain, every hurt, every tragedy, every bad thing in this life and make it good according to His will, whether we see it in this life or the next.
It’s because of this fact He says to be joyful in our circumstances. Because our circumstances may suck, but our God does not. So that even when it hurts, we can have a deep sense of peace in knowing we have a God who only wants what’s best for us, as scary or unknown as His best may be.
I am not a joyful person, I’ve admitted that much. But that doesn’t mean I can’t obtain it.
I have to continue to believe I have a God who can sustain me even when my lack of joy cannot.
Everyday, I have to choose joy. And in doing so, I’m choosing God.
A good and faithful God.