Where do you find your joy? In your job, marriage, car, hobby, ministry? Do you feel that “if only __________, then I would be happy, content, fulfilled?”
How easy it is to look for joy in the things of life, yet how disheartening to find out that type of joy is usually fleeting and empty.
I’ve been guilty of it, too often really — trying to find happiness in things and people. It leads to a constant searching and grasping for something, and then something even better, and then more and more until finally it feels like there just is no true joy to be found.
Several years ago I had a turning point in my life. Things changed drastically — literally overnight. Something was taken out of my life and although it was truly a good thing to have it removed, that moment still quickly brought me to my knees, grasping all over again.
For 20 years I desperately tried to make it all right, to make someone else happy and keep things together. If only he were happy then we’d all be happy, if only I were better then he’d be happy and we’d all be happy. If only…
I tried so hard to find happiness in something — in someone — then suddenly in one fell swoop it was pulled out from under me. And it was in that moment when it became clear to me for perhaps the first time that the joy I’d been striving for all those years was there all along — the joy was right there for my taking. Perhaps the situation was less than ideal, toxic even, but in the midst of heartache and struggle in my life, I had unknowingly placed the real joy of life on the back burner because honestly, there was no time for Him…I was too busy trying to make my own happiness.
And to think, all I had ever really needed to do to have true, everlasting joy in my life was to listen for it — listen for His voice and take joy in hearing it.
You will never find happiness or joy by having a fulfilling job, better marriage, newer car, exciting hobby or trotting off to distant lands for a ministry. We can dream, we can hope, we can pray to find fulfillment and joy in those things — we can think that if only we had this or that, or could do those things we’d always dreamed of we’d be happy, we’d finally find joy in our lives.
John the Baptist talks of waiting and listening for the bridegroom’s voice, and how his joy is found and complete when he hears His voice:
“The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine…” ~John 3:29
We must wait on and listen for God’s voice and then we will find joy when we hear Him.
While waiting and quietly listening on this chilly, gray winters day I will give thanks for all He brings to my life:
*sitting in church with his arm around me
*making new friends in a church so big it can be easy to get lost in
*two sons who still make time to show their love while busily finding their way in this life
*the ability to stay connected online with long-distant friends and family
*plentiful wood for the woodstove for these chilly still-winter mornings
…and the list goes on.
What are you grateful for today? Are you making time to wait on Him, listen for Him and find joy in Him? No matter what your life holds, what struggles you may face, what heartache leaves you feeling hopeless — you can have joy — true, everlasting, non-stop joy.
May you find joy today and every day…