A Reflection on the Subject of Joy, Lost and Found

For much of last year I lost joy.

Oh, there was a lot to be joyful about: my marriage, children I love, our grandchildren, and a new hobby, camping.

And ministry was rewarding: our Friday morning Bible study, men coming to Jesus, men's lives changing, wonderful colleagues, a field staff gaining maturity and experience, and publishing 25th anniversary editions of two books.

And then there was the Lord himself. The love and constant presence of Jesus has been like secret food to me.

But no number of happy circumstances seen through the lens of sadness is ever quite the same.

Here's the thing. You can't just tell someone who is sad to trust God and, poof, joy will return.

So what do we do when we lose our joy? We soldier on. We live by faith. We tap into our reserves of Jesus, if we have them. And if not, "When we are faithless, he will remain faithful." (2 Timothy 2:13).

How do we soldier on? When our children were growing up I repeatedly taught them, "Sometimes you have to substitute discipline for a lack of natural interest." Because sometimes we are simply not going to be feeling "it."

But that doesn't mean "it" (joy, hope, peace, contentment, and so on) has left us. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He is still with us. And as we abide in Jesus, the fruit on our branches will ripen at the right time (think "Bible time"). Until then, just do the next right thing – whatever that is. That's "substituting discipline for a lack of natural interest."

I am healing. I do feel more joyful – as a general state of mind. But these things take time. Recently I read in a camping article that a battery can only charge at a certain rate, so hooking the camper batteries up to a bigger generator doesn't really make any difference. In other words, you can't just blast a discharged battery and make it "feel better." Or a person with words.

Mostly I'm thankful. "Weeping lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

Good morning :-)