Some days it seems there is no reason to be happy at all: your heart is about to break from some tragedy, only bad news angrily spatters across your TV screen, your Facebook timeline is full of negativity, your loved ones have let you down or hurt you, you just cannot seem to get any relief from illness or trials, your mind is riddled with intrusive thoughts, or you have let the Lord down once again with your sin.
During these times – no matter how much people tell you it’s okay, matter how well meaning their words are – often it feels like you could never, ever be happy.
They may be well-intentioned, but their words are often more confusing and hurtful than helpful. “Just be happy” they say. I Struggling, wishing for comfort, feeling like we are being crushed under the weight of our own sorrows, “stop crying and just be happy” is hardly the comfort that we need.
The comfort for the Christian in times of trial is that God – instead of telling us to just be happy – gives us reasons to have joy.
It is very likely that those people who tell us to “just be happy” or “just not worry” have never really dealt with their emotions in a constructive way – or perhaps don’t feel as deeply as you do. Instead of suppressing emotions in faked happiness (which is incredibly unhealthy), you should embrace those negative emotions and find positive thoughts to counteract them.
The thing is, you don’t need to just be happy. Tears are allowed in God’s kingdom, while we wait for a place where there will be no more crying.
And the happy reality for the Christian is that, no matter how hopeless things seem, there is always an abundance of blessings to be thankful, joyful, and hopeful about – even when it feels like everything is wrong. We can find His joy when happiness is far away.
Let your struggle and strife give way to His peace by reflecting on these 5 things that are always true for the Christian.
5 THINGS TO REFLECT ON WHEN JOY SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE:
1 | THERE IS STILL GOOD IN THIS WORLD
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4)
Yes, this world has plenty of bad people in it. People do bad things. People make bad decisions. However, no matter how much bad you see being done, there are a lot of people doing good as well. Take some time to focus on and thank God for those doing good and let them bring you joy. If you feel up to it, write a note of encouragement or take the time to tell someone to their face how much their goodness means to you. It is a great joy, even in the depths of depression, to know there are still those around us doing good.
2 | THERE ARE ALWAYS PEOPLE WE CAN RELY ON
“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you” (1 Corinthians 7:16)
You do have at least one friend you can rely on, if you are honest with yourself – even if they’re just a Facebook friend you can chat to on messenger. Be thankful for those around you who you can rely on and have not let you down, even if it is just the faithful few – and take the time to pray for them and reach out. Often when we are sad the very last thing we want to do is the best thing for us, but God knows that we need connection. Let others know you are struggling. Ask for their prayers. You are not alone, no matter how much you feel alone. Let that reality wash over you. Have joy in the confidence you can have that those in the church around you will meet your needs, and let them help to bear your burdens.
3 | THIS TRIAL WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2, 3).
Rejoice in the knowledge that your troubles are making you stronger and helping you to learn valuable lessons. In the middle of difficulty – this can be one of the most difficult things to find joy in, but it is a bit of comfort. If it was a mistake you made, you likely won’t make it again – and even if you do, you have the Father’s promise of forgiveness no matter how many times you fall. Amazing, right? If it was an experience, you have learnt how to be more empathetic towards others. If you let it, this trial will make you stronger. God is shaping your soul – and that is a beautiful thing. Difficult, yes – painful, often – but still incredibly beautiful.
4 | THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12)
If nothing else, a thought that can help us press forward is the realization that this life is not the end. Rejoice that at the coming of Christ your patience will be rewarded with joy and rest. Abounding joy and unending rest. No more tiredness, pain, sickness, death. In times of tragedy, Heaven seems all that more sweet. Use these times to learn to lean into Him and hope for Heaven just that little bit more. Use these times to learn to say, “Even so, Lord Jesus.”
“[Happy] are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [Heaven]” (Revelation 22:14).
5 | GOD IS ALWAYS THERE
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places ” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
The prophet Habakkuk was able to say with confidence that even if everything in his life went wrong, God would always be something right in His life. God would always be there with salvation and strength for whatever lay ahead. Isn’t that a comfort? Though the storm around us rages – though this life may have no real peace – God is our anchor of hope in the midst of it all. Take some time to reflect on how He has brought you through every storm and struggle. Even if everything goes wrong – He is righteous and faithful. He has not forgotten you – and He will uphold you with His hand.
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You may not feel like there is any reason for happiness – but no matter the situation, you can always trust His goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and grace. And while you may not feel happy, you can feel peace and security as you rest in Him.
Go to Him with your burdens – cast your every care on Him – and He will sustain you.
May God bless you as you rest in Him amid the storms.