Would you consider yourself joyful? Joy is one God’s greatest gifts to us. Yet, so many of us struggle and carry enormous weights of pain, uncertainty, disappointment, grief, and hurt. However, Jesus loves to restore wounded hearts. Where do you go when your heart is wounded? Is it a place of healing or destruction?
I know where I go…I run. I love to run because this is one of the treasured spaces of life where I experience joy. My sanctuary is a wooded trail where I can run freely and experience the pure pleasure of God in those moments. I have learned sacred lessons on these runs. God teaches, corrects, encourages, consoles, and restores. He enters into the vulnerable places of my heart and He infuses joy.
The trail is a precious opportunity for me to process grief, hurt, disappointment, and fear. They say pastors are supposed to have it all together. But can I let you in on a little secret…we don’t. We doubt, we bleed, we suffer, we feel isolated, we fail, and we are in a healing process just like you. I told my wife recently that there are some days when I wish I was one of those pastors who did not feel. I wish I could close off my heart when I counsel a couple that is on the verge of divorce, sit with a family as they prepare their loved one’s funeral, or console parents whose child has gone astray. I feel these moments so profoundly and they get etched into my heart. The danger I face is that there are times when it is hard for me to experience joy. I love being a pastor, but there are seasons that I travel through life with wounds that steal my joy.
Kay Warren wrote a fantastic book entitled, Choose Joy, and she defines joy powerfully…
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 all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.
I love that. Joy is not something that happens to me. It is not dependent on my circumstances. It is dependent on the condition of my heart. Every moment of my life, good or challenging, is an opportunity to choose joy. I choose to believe that God is good and He is in control.
May God equip us to turn away from the worthless idols of fear, anxiety, despair, and distrust. In the words of the Apostle Paul, may God equip us to turn to Him and,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…Philippians 4.4-7