Sometimes it seems like joy is just out of our reach. Our souls yearn for it and grasp for it but we don't quite reach it. Maybe you're like me and allow the inability to reach joy bring you even further away from obtaining it... knowing that we've no right not to rejoice in what God has given us... knowing that our despondency isn't the attitude that God wants for us. It makes the joyless times even harder for me to bear. I suppose it's guilt. Guilt over the inability to find joy.
I don't want to rationalize sin or make excuses for our human nature, but, as imperfect creatures, we all face times of despondency. I don't think there's any avoiding it. Sooner or later we'll enter into periods of winter where joy seems to be more of a myth than a reality. Where we look back on past springs and wonder how we felt such joy and jubilation... did we really experience it? Or were we simply naive enough to believe that our life could be filled with such joy?
To that I confidently say that our life can be filled with joy... it can, in fact, overflow with joy. And when we're in the midst of our winter we can positively know that joy will come again, although it's difficult to believe. God has not and will not forget us.
You might say, "Alright, girlie... you're, what? all of 26? What can you possibly have experienced to know this? What winter could you possibly have weathered to know such a thing to be true?" You're right. I haven't experienced half of what others have experienced. However, without going into detail, I have had a few personal, life shaking winters. But someone can always argue that theirs were harsher, colder winters than mine and, therefore, I can't promise that spring will return for them. So, I'll not waste time in describing my winters. Instead, I give you Psalm 30 (I refuse to paraphrase it. It's a beautiful Psalm and should be read word for word.):
1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. 6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. 8 I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. 9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. 11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
This chapter promises the coming spring. He cried to God... God listened and healed! God brought his soul from the grave and kept him from the pit! He was deep in despair, but God spared him from the very bottom. Verse 5 is my favorite... weeping endures for the night but joy cometh in the morning! Joy will come!
The winter described in this chapter was harsh. David proudly declared that he couldn't be moved but, through this particular winter, he learned that his mountain was only held fast because of the Lord. He was troubled and God hid His face. I don't doubt for a second that he felt alone and abandoned... doubtful that joy would return. But God saw him through the night and David found that, yes! joy does come in the morning! He cried out to God and God became his helper. Night does not last forever... morning will come. Spring will come. And with it, joy.
There's no need to listen to my paltry words of spring and the return of joy... listen to the words in Psalm. Hold tight to these promises during your winter... when it seems that hope is gone and joy is a myth. Grab onto them and don't let go! God will turn your mourning into dancing and your sackcloth into gladness! Joy will come in the morning! And that, friends, is joy #100! Betsy