Finding joy in the Lord

Hi everyone! I was wondering if anyone had any insight on finding joy in the Lord. When I am stressed out or saddened by things going on in my life, I tend to think of earthly things that bring me a little joy. Even a favorite TV show or food. And then I think, wow, I can’t believe that’s the only positive thing I can think of or that brings me a bit of comfort! But we’re supposed to find joy in the Lord. It’s difficult to think of getting joy or comfort from the Lord when he’s not physically here. I know we can have joy for what’s to come, but it seems so far off that it brings little comfort for today. I feel guilty that my “joy” or comfort only comes from earthly things. A song, a food, a favorite TV show, shopping…I focus on those things when life is overwhelming and provide myself with them for a bit of enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I don’t “go to the Lord” first, and find joy and comfort there because I don’t really know how! Any thoughts?

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My heart goes out to you @Riverstone, I know the feeling.
My sister and I were discussing this very topic today. She lost her only child 4yrs ago and she had lost her joy. She tried every distraction possible to alleviate her pain. Today, for the first time, since my beautiful niece passed away my sister said to me, “ I believe God is restoring my joy.” This didn’t come to her from any type of entertainment. It came through much prayer and a diligent seeking for the Holy Spirit to move. It took some time for her because of the circumstances.
I find my joy in silence, either in my prayer room or listening to the river, bird watching, working in the yard, etc., just me and God, revisiting the grace He has poured out on me throughout my life. And salvation. The mere fact that Jesus has gifted us salvation. Pray for your joy to return. Depending on your circumstances, It may take some time but God is faithful.
King David prayed…—Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12)
I read an article today they may help you.
https://unlockingthebible.org/2015/10/restore-to-me-the-joy-of-your-salvation/
God bless, I will lift you up in prayer :pray:t2:

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Hello, Jennifer @Riverstone. I hear you on this. I have struggled with this, too. I think this is a bit of a deeper discussion than a person would think from just a surface glance. One question that comes to mind is how do you define the joy of the Lord? Do you think it is the same thing as happiness? If not, how do you think they may be different?

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@Riverstone. If it is okay I would like to share my story from a previous post.

"Years ago I was experiencing persistent sadness and disappointment. Though considered a “Mission Field Worker” for my congregation, there was a great deal of sorrow and anger residing in my heart.

One morning I was fed up! Angrily, and with tears, I asked an older member, my Aunt, why I did not experience the joy of which others had testified and proclaimed. I raged against the brooding atmosphere in our fellowship that reeked of martyrdom. Where is my joy I nearly shouted! To her credit, she simply replied; “I don’t know.”

That shut my mouth, but it did little for the anger. I turned to the only help I knew. I begin to insist upon an answer from the Lord. In the midst of me informing Him of all the disappointment I had experienced and witnessed, came a quiet voice.

“Have I ever broken my word to you?” “No,” was my reply. “Have I ever once fail to hear your cry?” “No,” I replied again. “Have I ever changed?” By now my heart is breaking. Then the Lord hit me with the “piece de resistance!” “There’s your joy,” He announced “The steadfastness of my heart and love for you.”

I don’t know how long I sat wailing in my Aunt’s car that morning. I do know after all the tears and repentance. I stood up a new person. Since that day I walk with a confidence born of that assurance.

I still cry, I still know disappointment, and sometimes I am sad. Either because of my behavior, my circumstances or because of others. But I know, I am loved by an unfailing, unchanging GOD. And that’s like Teflon protection around my soul."

I hope that helps! The only problem with finding solace in physical things is their inability to scratch beyond the surface of my sadness. It can become dangerous for someone like me who can be a “stress eater”. If those things had an eternal quality to them, then I would happily submerge myself in French Vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered nuts, a big greasy cheeseburger, an endless supply of soda pop, while watching a favored show. But that just shifts the battleground to the sadness from obesity. GOD is the eternal, nonfattening source of joy. The more I learn of Him, if I am obedient, the greater my joy.

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@Riverstone, thank you for your question that is common to many of us as others have pointed above. I too have asked many a times, where is the joy in the Lord that the Bible promises? How do I get there? How do I stay there? I can tell you a few things that I have learnt over the years.

  • Its okay to be moved by circumstances and feel the pain of the situation. I say this because sometimes in some Christian communities, I have seen that an honesty about our pain is perceived as a weakness of faith. God can be glorified in our sorrows just as much as in our joys. Jesus Himself shed tears when He was on earth and He understands our hurt. Different people may take different amounts of time to process the pain depending on the situation and the person. The important thing as you have pointed out is to take things to the Lord in prayer. The substitutes may alter our feelings temporarily by redirecting our attention but they will not give us lasting joy that is independent of our circumstances that our souls long for.

  • Joy comes from hope that arises through faith in God’s promises. There is no short-cut to get to this place of joy as even @sig mentioned. It’s not so much about a state of doing as much as it is about a state of being and knowing. We need to be still (cease striving) and know that He is God (Ps 46:10). We often want to get to the place of joy but God wants us to learn other lessons such as our identity in Him and dependance on Him (Heb 12:11-13). He wants to train us to be content in Him whether in plenty or lack. I spent many years trying to pursue joy but it only caused more sadness with my repeated failures. What I didn’t understand was that it’s in His presence that there is fullness of joy and not by my striving. I only needed to be after Jesus not after my joy. Its only by focusing on Him that our hearts can be glad. Ps 16: 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

  • Few practical steps I take to find my joy are - 1) Find time to pray alone 2) Identify what caused me to lose joy. If its something that comes out of ungodly expectations, I quickly confess so that I have a clean heart before God 3) I pray from scripture as it helps to focus on God rather than myself 4) Find things to be thankful about and praise God for 5) Meditate on the promises of God and character of God till they sink in my heart 6) Pray for a Holy Spirit encounter as joy of the Lord can only be given by His Spirit. 7) Join in prayer with friends 8) Speak truth and hope. When I am persistant with this, many a days I find that as I rest on His promises, the heavy feelings do lift. Even if they dont, we can still have faith and act on that basis, and sooner or later our mourning is turned into dancing (Ps 30:5). I think as long as we are not encouraging self-condemning thoughts but have a heart of faith and hope in God we are moving in the right direction and we are on our way to joy.

  • Finally, I also want to add that as Christians, there is also a spiritual element, the enemy who can steal our joy and that may also be something to pray about.

I am still on a journey myself to live in that joy of the Lord. It takes time to grow in the Lord. Here’s another thread that was discussed recently that may be helpful to you.

God bless you!

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Greetings @Riverstone, you raise a great question and my heart goes out to you and others who share the same or similar experience.

There is a long answer that is quite wordy and a shorter one, that I hope, shall suffice for now, hoping it starts you on the path to God’s peace.

I shall keep you in prayer trusting The Lord shall guide your path to enlightenment.

Many people associate happiness (a feeling) with joy (an emotion) but they are not the same.

Feelings (happiness) are learned, triggered by circumstance and play out in our head, either rational or irrational . Emotions (joy) on the other hand, involves little cognitive awareness, is invoked without consciously deciding to and it precedes feelings and can ultimately leave you with a deeper, longer lasting feeling, like in the scripture: Neh 8:10 “The joy of The Lord is my strength” - this implies that deep in your heart, by knowing The Lord, He has changed your heart in such a way that regardless of physical circumstance, you feel an over whelming happiness, joy, ecstasy, etc.

Consider He 12:2 . " who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

The joy is not rooted in the physical but in His trust in The Father’s Plan

I know this is rather concise, for a more deeper insight I should recommend you read C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, also, on the other side, read his Problem of Pain.

Many, many times, in the midst of great heaviness, pain, uncertainty, with no real tangible solution to solve the problem, I have learned to carry my tears to The Lord, and lay them at His feet. Phil 4:6-8.

In my heart I have accepted/trusted that the BEST that I can do is to Bring it to The Lord, the creator of all. I am then at peace (His peace) with His will and it gives me great joy. I am no longer worried about the outcome or circumstance. This joy (peace that surpasses all understanding) comes from Him, the knowledge of The Holy. It is not something this world has to offer.

May God grant you mercy, grace and peace.

:slight_smile:

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  1. Communion with God through His means. Prayer Bible reading/meditation
  2. And fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Your local church.
  3. Praise in the midst of all circumstances! (Read and think over the Psalms) 75% or more of them express real joy in the midst of life circumstances!
  4. One thing I’ve added recently service to lost family members, co-workers etc… This is not to make light of the suffering but it helps us keep focused on God’s purposes for others in the midst our suffering.

Hope this is helpful!

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Really God-Centered/Biblical replies not to us but to His Name be the Glory!

Thank you all for your insightful and very helpful replies! It really did shed a lot of light on the subject. I plan on trying to identify things that give me joy that are from God such as being in church and Bible study! That really does give me joy and a respite from the cares of the world and life! I’m sure I can identify many other things too! Thank you all!

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Finding happiness in the abundant life God has given you is wonderful. In the Bible says, “every good and prefect good is from above.” — But what happens when everything goes wrong? I have found that God alone is all we really have or need. He has to be enough. Go deeper with Jesus and His word. “The jou of the Lord is our strength.” When I have been in prolonged terrible situations, I learned Gods faithfulness, strength, peace, interventions and protection. I wish nothing went wrong. But I have seen our good God take me and friends through living through hellacious situations. I encourage one friend. She was cajoled by her employer, worked extra hours 15 to 17 a day for 3 years. God took her out. She is slowly recovering. God is able. “He asks us to taste and see that the LORD is good.” He allows us to go through the impossible with Him. He is loving. He is gracious and kind. Late in posting. Hope this blesses you.