I was undone. I doubted I would ever be happy again.
At the time I couldn’t see the way God was working in and through my pain to patiently and lovingly give me something more precious than my lost happiness.
God knew my greatest need was not happiness.
My greatest need was joy.
I believe Jesus joy is best defined in the following quotes…
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world… [Joy] is not an idea. It is not a conviction. It is not a persuasion or a decision. It is a feeling.” ~John Piper
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” ~Kay Warren
I can sum up their words this way. Joy means…
It is well with my soul.
It’s counterintuitive to the world’s way of thinking.
The world will tell you happy and successful are the answer, and the way to get successful happiness is through positive thinking in your own abilities. Think positive thoughts and turn them into determined actions.
Maybe you’ve heard it this way…
“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy.” ~Norman Vincent Peale
Persuasive, isn’t it? So persuasive we believe it.
Have a dream. Believe in yourself. Work hard. Make it happen.
A step by step plan for guaranteed happiness.
If you want it bad enough and believe big enough you can have your heart’s desire. You will be happy. You deserve it and you have the power to make it happen within you.
It’s subtle and oooh, it sounds good.
The enemy of our souls is crafty, isn’t he? He whispers, “God isn’t enough. You want more. You need more. And you have the power within yourself to achieve more.”
We’ve heard the message so often . . . we think it’s truth.
Back to my story…
As I sat there that day longing for happiness. A day that turned into weeks and yes even months, one thought repeated…
“I don’t know what to DO.”
I had always trusted the pattern. Believe. Stay positive. Find out what to do. Do. Do better. Repeat. And reach the goal.
But this time the pattern had failed. Positive thinking and persistent doing were powerless to change my circumstances.
Maybe you’ve been there or you’re there now.
You’re up against a health crisis, loss, or tragedy and no amount of positive thinking or doing will change what you’re going through.
One of the reasons I like Kay Warren’s definition of joy is she wrote it after the tragic death of her son. She gets it.
She knows it’s not happiness or even success that will help us in our undone moments.
It’s joy. Jesus joy.
Joy that isn’t temporary and doesn’t depend on getting or keeping what we want. It’s joy that fills us when all else fails and gives confidence that in Jesus everything will be alright.
Jesus . . . God’s love in a human body.
Joy even in life’s worst moments. The ones where we’ve finally come to the end of ourselves, broken and surrendered.
And that’s where was . . . at the end of me. I had nothing to offer. No power in the positive. No plan of action. No words. Nowhere to turn but Jesus.
“Help me, Jesus. I need You.”
And He did. He’s like that, isn’t He?
He blessed me not with what I wanted but with what I really needed.
With Himself. With soul wellness.
Soul wellness that is…
Love when you don’t feel lovable.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love . . . nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37–39
Peace when life is in turmoil.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Hope when the journey is hard.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Romans 5:5
Strength when you’re weak.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Isaiah 40:28:29
And JOY in Jesus.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:9–11
Love. Peace. Hope. Strength. and Joy.
God turned my worst into His best.
I need to make one clarification. I’m talking about positive “self” talk not focusing our thoughts on things that are true, pure, and lovely.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
You see, I’ve learned it’s important to get rid of “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Because focusing on God’s truth in Jesus is where I find soul wellness and joy.
The other day I had a tangible reminder of what we lost and I’ll admit old waves of sadness washed over me.
But they didn’t hijack my joy.
Because I believe, I know . . . “the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life.”
It is well with soul and soul wellness in Jesus gives me joy.
And that’s all I really need.
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