Finding Joy When We Do Not Feel It
15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:15-18
How often do we find ourselves discontented? It is a feeling we all share from time-to-time. Its sneaky occurrence is not limited to any particular time of year, but I believe we are reminded of it most when the the holiday season approaches, as it does now. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, amidst all the other traditions and meanings, bid us to cultivate gratitude and joy. Perhaps in a good season of life, when all is going as we’d like it to, we more effortlessly feel such things. We know we should feel thankful or joyous. But, in challenging seasons of life, it can sometimes be difficult to find joy. We know from 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 that we need joy to refresh and renew our spirit from the burden of everyday life. So how do we find joy when we do not feel it?
1Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!Psalm 95:1-2
Gratitude Is Key
The key is gratitude. Gratitude unlocks our hearts for God to work in them to show us a place where real joy may be experienced and abided in. When we cultivate gratitude in our hearts, it always leads to worshipping God for His goodness and mercy. C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it.” Ultimately, praise produces joy in our hearts (Psalm 95:1-2). We see this pattern over and over again in the Word, most often in the Psalms. It is a progression of the heart’s posture. A heart capable of thanksgiving is primed for praise. When we praise, we are reminded of how great God is and, in doing so, surrender our circumstances. Only here are we capable of finding real, lasting joy. Paul and David are particularly strong examples of the correlation between gratitude, praise, and joy. Each display within their lives God’s provisions that we have access to as believers to overcome whatever circumstances we face. And not just “make it through,” but to overcome with a joy that is more steady and permanent than the temporal happiness the world falsely promises.
23This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:23-24
Gratitude Leads To Joy
Gratitude is the call to action. Praise is the goal. Joy is the inevitable result. Gratitude leads to praise leads to joy (Psalm 118:23-24). Let these simple steps become practical application that we may reflect on to lead our hearts abundantly through life and into the coming holiday season. Praying gratitude and joy over you, from the LMW family!