In the Absence of Joy

The other day I had a really wonderful day. My joy was spilling out all over the place and I felt like I was at my best in my work and my vocation. I was driving home from work playing some of my favorite music loud in the car, and I was praying a prayer of thanksgiving for such a wonderful day, when I heard God speak to my heart and say “It doesn’t really prove anything to be joyful today.”

It wasn’t accusatory. It wasn’t a jab. It was just a fact. 

Anyone could be joyful on this good day. But did I still have Joy when it wasn’t the best day?

We all have challenging times when we don’t feel joy. Sometimes we even have good times when we don’t feel joy.

You might be praying regularly. You might be prioritizing church life, both attending and being a part of the community. You might have a fulfilling job and a good family and feel like you have no reason to not experience joy.

Or maybe things are kind of a mess, but you are really doing everything you can to lean into Jesus and the joy is just not there.

This happens. This isn’t a sign that you don’t love Jesus enough, or that there’s something wrong with you, or that you don’t believe enough. 

But I do think that missing joy is a sign that we can go deeper. God has more for us. Like God's simple words to my heart in my car that day, it’s not accusatory. It’s not a punishment for not being good enough or holy enough. 

But it is a fact. There is joy to be had, and it is buried deep in the heart of God. And so when we do not have joy, I think the answer is universally to dive deeper into that heart. 

It doesn’t mean we will instantly be full of joy and virtue, but there is no doubt we will be on the right path that will lead to joy in God’s timing. I think that’s what it is to “choose joy” – to be in pursuit of real joy where it actually lives regardless of how we feel.

We don’t choose our feelings, but we do get to choose the path we walk.

So however you’re feeling today, I encourage you to ask yourself: am I choosing a path that I can rest assured ends in joy? Am I journeying consciously deeper into the heart of God?

If so, the joy will come.

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